BERLIN — ProSiebenSat1 is expecting a serious dent in the TV group’s bottom line this year due to a hefty Euros 120 million ($170 million) fine imposed by German antitrust regulators, but chief exec Guillame de Posch has expressed confidence that the hit will be softened by the acquisition of SBS, which has created the second biggest European broadcasting group in Europe.
Speaking to journalists in Hamburg on Monday, de Posch also said the company would likely decide on the future of its PSP production unit by the end of the year. ProSiebenSat1 is weighing a sale of the division.
“We need support in this area,” de Posch said, adding that a strategic partnership was under review, although he did not exclude a complete sale of the unit.
De Posch mentioned media reports that named Red Bee Media, IBM, Thomson Corp. and Siemens as possible buyers, but added, “I will leave it at that.”
According to local press reports, ProSiebenSat1 is hoping to fetch some $350 million for PSP. The production unit employs about 1,000 staffers and covers the entire range of production services for the broadcaster.
Earlier this month cartel watchdogs slapped fines totaling $306 million on ProSiebenSat1 and rival broadcaster RTL for anticompetitive practices in TV advertising.
ProSiebenSat1 accepted the fine and said it would use a new pricing model for media agencies and the advertising industry in line with cartel law, adding that it was confident it could continue to achieve its performance targets under the new sales model.
ProSiebenSat1, which financed the $4.7 billion takeover of SBS through credit, is looking to streamline operations and save up to $125 million a year through synergy effects beginning in 2010, de Posch said.
The chief exec added that ProSiebenSat1’s internationalization was the right solution in face of growing competition from U.S. players such as Time Warner, Google and Yahoo, predicting that Internet operators would not only continue to pose a severe threat in the advertising market, but could conceivably begin to acquire TV channels.
Through its merger with SBS, ProSiebenSat1 operates in 13 European countries, reaching some 200 million viewers and generating some $4.2 billion in annual revenue.
Looking at the German TV market, de Posch said it could still grow by 2%-3% this year, depending on the fourth quarter.