TF1 still eyeing Kirch Media

Gallic web may join new consortium

PARIS –- TF1 may still pony up for a stake in Germany’s Kirch Media, despite the recent collapse of Haim Saban’s deal to acquire the bankrupt Teutonic television group.

The Gallic private free web is considering forming a consortium with Lehman Brothers and Saudi prince, al-Walid to invest in Kirch, whose holdings include broadcaster ProSiebenSat 1, according to German weekly Focus.

While creditor banks HypoVereinsbank, Bayerische Landesbank,Commerzbank and DZ Bank plan to remain Kirch’s majority shareholders, they are open to outside investors, despite their long-term goal of selling the TV giant when market conditions improve.

Last Wednesday, Saban Capital Group and Kirch Media’s insolvency administrator said that they had agreed to “amicably annul” the sale, after the parties failed to reach a financial agreement satisfactory to all before the deadline.

When Saban first made a run for the Kirch holdings, TF1 was generally considered the U.S. billionaire’s partner, but the French group surprised industry watchers when it backed down from the partnership in April, offering instead to invest between €100million and €150 million ($117 million-$175) for a 10% stake in Saban’s purchase.

Earlier it had said it was prepared to cough up $375 million-$425 million.

At the time, web’s prexy Patrick Le Lay said that while investing in the Kirch assets was too good an opportunity to pass up, the questions of financing and managerial difficulties prevented TF1 from taking a majority stake in Saban’s acquisition.

In March, TF1 invited Saban to sit on its board of directors, in a non-executive capacity.

TF1 could not be reached for comment.