Kirch allies attract U.S. investment

MarCap ups stakes in EM.Sport, Highlight

Teutonic media mogul Leo Kirch is getting support from U.S. investors.

U.S. investment group MarCap has upped its stakes in EM.Sport Media to 5% and in Swiss entertainment group Highlight Communications to 9% after Kirch unveiled plans for a new sports media empire. Kirch holds shares in both companies and is expected to bring them together to build a major sports rights and production powerhouse.

In September, Kirch agreed to sell his 36.4% stake in Highlight to EM.Sport Media in a deal valued at e163 million ($230 million). In exchange, Kirch got an 11.5% stake in EM.Sport and some $170 million in cash. The swap leaves Kirch as EM.Sport’s biggest shareholder, while EM.Sport becomes the largest shareholder in Highlight. Latter owns Swiss sports rights company Team.

Kirch has a marketing deal with the German Football League that runs from 2009-15, and EM.Sport looks set to play a major role in covering Bundesliga soccer from 2009.

“Kirch is building a powerful sports company. That’s why we’re strengthening our investments,” MarCap prexy-CEO David Marcus told German financial daily Handelsblatt.

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