ProSieben to cut staff by 10%

SBS merger prompts cuts

Some staffers will be paying the price for ProSiebenSat 1’s $4.4 billion takeover of pan-European group SBS Broadcasting.

The German TV conglom will lay off some 300 employees, 10% of its work force, to boost its operating profit margin from 22% to 30% over the next few years.

Spelling out the details of the SBS takeover will be at the top of the agenda for ProSiebenSat 1’s annual general meeting today.

The media company’s new owners, private equity firms KKR and Permira, are pushing for higher profit margins following the SBS takeover, and ProSiebenSat 1 execs are under pressure to deliver.

Major cuts are expected at the Berlin-based Sat 1 channel, which is laying off 60 employees, or a quarter of its personnel, and dramatically scaling back its news and information programming, according to weekly news magazine Der Spiegel.

Former Sat 1 managing director Roger Schawinski, who ankled last year, beefed up Sat 1’s news division in his three-year stint at the web. In 2004, Schawinski appointed Thomas Kausch, a former anchor at pubcaster ZDF, to head Sat 1’s news division.

Kausch gave Sat 1 news a much-needed polish, but the anchor is reportedly ankling in protest of the cuts. Sat 1 is expected to cancel three or four news and information programs.

ProSiebenSat 1 has some 3,100 employees, SBS 2,800.

The company has so far declined to comment, although ProSiebenSat 1 topper Guillaume de Posch confirmed last month that there would be layoffs following the merger.

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