German publishing giant Axel Springer is again eyeing TV broadcasting conglom ProSiebenSat.1.
Equity investment groups KKR and Permira, ProSiebenSat.1’s shareholders, want to sell their controlling stake and Springer is interested in acquiring it, according to German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
Springer tried to takeover the group in 2005, but watchdogs torpedoed the acquisition, paving the way for KKR and Permira.
ProSiebenSat.1 shares have been rising steadily over the past two years in line with the recovering ad market, and the company’s management has repeatedly revised its pre-tax profit upward following extensive cost cuts. ProSiebenSat.1 is expected to post an operating result for 2010 of more than €850 million ($1.2 billion) today.
Springer also controls Germany’s leading tabloid Bild as well as daily broadsheet Die Welt and TV magazine Hoerzu. Antitrust regulators cited Springer’s dominance of the market as a key reason to block its takeover of ProSiebenSat.1. It would “lead to an inadmissible degree of market power,” said German Cartel Office prexy Ulf Boege at the time.
While no decision has yet been made, Permira and KKR are said to be considering selling their shares on the stock market, or a secondary market offering.
According to the Sueddeutsche, which quoted sources close to the company, Springer is interested in buying a 25% stake. Details are expected to be announced in the second half of the year.
Springer wouldn’t comment on the report. But a company source said it made no sense for Springer to buy ProSiebenSat.1 at its current share price of nearly $33. “Had we wanted to buy it we would have done so a year ago when the share price was much more than half of what it is now.”
Regulators have said they would likely review a renewed offer by Springer, even if it were for less than 25%.
Rupert Murdoch is also rumored to be looking at a stake in the group.
ProSiebenSat.1 controls five German webs, including namesake channels ProSieben and Sat.1, as well as dozens of TV webs and radio stations in 13 countries in Europe.