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ProSiebenSat.1 close to selling Scandi channels

Deal could pave way for shareholder exit

BERLIN — German media giant ProSiebenSat.1 could complete the sale of its Scandinavian broadcasting assets in the coming days, and possibly shake off its main shareholders in the process, according local media reports.

The company, which operates 29 TV stations with an audience of more than 62 million households across Europe, is selling its TV networks in Sweden, Denmark and Norway for an estimated Euros 1.3 billion ($1.7 billion), with Discovery tipped as the likely buyer. Private equity investor Providence is also said to be interested in the Scandinavian assets.

ProSiebenSat.1’s majority shareholders, the private equity firms KKR and Permira, are reportedly claiming most of the expected proceeds as a special dividend in order to pay back some of the $2.6 billion of debt held by the companies’ jointly owned Lavena Holding, according to the Spiegel report. Nearly $800 million of that debt is due by 2015.

ProSiebenSat.1 CEO Thomas Ebeling is reportedly willing to approve the dividend to KKR and Permira on the condition that they then divest their shares in the group.

ProSiebenSat.1 could not be reached for a comment.

The conglom’s main Teutonic channels, Sat.1, ProSieben and Kabel Eins, all rely heavily on high-profile Hollywood fare like “Supernatural,” “Hawaii Five-0,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Justified.”

Showtime’s hit spy series “Homeland” has become Sat.1’s latest acquisition. The network is adding the show to its Sunday night lineup in February, following hit skeins “NCIS” and “The Mentalist.”

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