Spain’s Prisa prises loan extension

Media group agrees to terms of $3.1 billion loan

MADRID — Prisa, Spain’s biggest media group, has gained a nine-month breathing space in its efforts to sell off its Digital Plus pay TV business.

The company confirmed Friday it had agree to a renegotiation of the terms of a 1.95 billion euros ($3.1 billion) syndicated loan drawn down last year to buy up minority investors in Sogecable, which groups both Digital Plus and terrestrial broadcaster Cuatro.

The loan matured June 20. But Prisa, which also owns Spain’s popular daily El Pais and the Cadena Ser radio network, has won an extension until March 31, on the condition it raises $792.5 million more in funding.

The Madrid-based conglom had already secured an expansion to an additional $3.2 billion credit line that was due in last month. Prisa ran into trouble in December when it bought out the 2.97% in Sogecable held by department store El Corte Ingles, raising Prisa’s stake in Sogecable to over 50%, thus forcing it to offer a tender at a high fixed price for the whole of Sogecable.

Surprising the market, all Sogecable’s minority investors, including Telefonica, which held a 17.2% stake, took up Prisa’s offer. Rumors swelled over the past two months that Mexican telco magnate Carlos Slim would take a chunk of Prisa; or that BSkyB would kick Digital Plus’ tires. The pay TV operator makes a better strategic fit, however, for a telco.

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