×

German Media Titans ProSiebenSat.1, Axel Springer in $16 Billion Merger Talks

German broadcast group ProSiebenSat.1 and publishing giant Axel Springer are in merger talks that could lead to the creation of a business worth around Euros 14.4 billion ($15.9 billion).

According to the Wall Street Journal, negotiations are at an early stage and the merger would face regulatory and anti-trust challenges. A move by Springer 10 years ago to buy ProSiebenSat.1 failed after opposition from Germany’s media watchdog KEK and the country’s anti-trust body. The media landscape has changed since then, with the rise of digital rivals. Last year, the Federal Administrative Court over-ruled the KEK’s objections to a merger, and the more competitive landscape would probably nullify any anti-trust concerns.

ProSieben, which is worth around Euros 9.7 billion ($10.7 billion), owns a network of TV channels that had a 28.9% share of Germany’s free-TV market in the first quarter. Stations include SAT.1, ProSieben, kabel eins, sixx, SAT.1 Gold and ProSieben MAXX. It is an avid consumer of Hollywood content, and has a licensing deal with Warner Bros., among others. It’s facing competition from recent digital entrants to the German market like Amazon and Netflix. Springer, which is valued at roughly Euros 4.7 billion ($5.13 billion), owns Germany’s best-selling daily newspaper, Bild, and last year bought news channel N24 from ProSieben. Both ProSieben and Springer have been investing heavily in online platforms.

Sixty-three per cent of Springer’s revenues and 73% of its core profit came from digital products in the first-quarter of this year. Investments in the U.S. include Ozy, an online magazine for news and culture, the online business magazine Business Insider, the social-video-news media company NowThis Media, the Pixlee photo-community and the Airbnb accommodations marketplace. Recent investments have included Mic.com, a news platform for 18 to 34 year olds.

In a twist Tuesday, Axel Springer said that the Springer family would keep control of the company even if its stake drops under 50% from the 57% share it has now. This will be facilitated by a change in its legal status from “AG” to “KGaA.” “Thus, speculation regarding a relinquishment of control is completely unfounded,” Springer told Reuters. But it wouldn’t comment on the “substance of market speculation,” which may suggest a merger is still in the cards, albeit with strings attached.

More TV

  • Baldvin-Z

    Iceland’s Baldvin Z Crime Series “Black Sands” Added to All3Media Slate (EXCLUSIVE)

    GÖTEBORG, Sweden  All3Media is to handle international rights on Icelandic crime series “Black Sands” which, currently in development, is to be pitched at the Göteborg Festival’s TV Drama Vision confab on Thursday. “Black Sands” marks the first crime thriller to be created by Icelandic helmer Baldvin Z (“Trapped”) since the hit series “Case.” Commissioned by [...]

  • Justin Timberlake performs onstage during the

    Ad Time in Fox's Super Bowl Was Sold Out. Until it Wasn't

    Fox declared in November that it had sold all the advertising time available in its looming February 2 broadcast of Super Bowl LIV. But just this week, it found a little more. After holding nearly two months’ worth of discussions, Fox and the National Football League have devised a way to add commercial inventory to [...]

  • NBC Orders Drama Pilot 'Ordinary Joe'

    NBC Orders Drama Pilot 'Ordinary Joe' From 'House' Alums

    NBC has given out its fifth drama pilot order for the 2020-2021 season. The broadcaster has commissioned “Ordinary Joe.” It explores the three parallel lives of the show’s main character after he makes a pivotal choice at a crossroads in his life. The series asks the question of how different life might look if you [...]

  • Bong Joon Ho 'Parasite' Director

    Listen: Who Will Take Home the Oscars for Best Director and Picture?

    The Oscars are just two weeks away, so it’s time to start making final predictions about who is going to win. On this week’s episode of “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast, I invited the magazine’s deputy awards and features editor (and my “Pick of the Week” co-host) Jenelle Riley onto the show [...]

  • Dazzler, Tigra, Hit-Monkey, and M.O.D.O.K.

    'Howard the Duck,' 'Tigra & Dazzler' Animated Marvel Shows Not Moving Forward at Hulu

    Marvel Television’s remaining slate continues to dwindle. Variety has confirmed that the animated shows “Howard the Duck” and “Tigra & Dazzler” — two of four animated Marvel projects set up at Hulu — are no longer in the works at the streamer. The other two shows, “M.O.D.O.K” and “Hit Monkey,” are currently still on track [...]

  • Star Wars Obi-Wan Kenobi movie

    After 'Star Wars' Obi-Wan Kenobi Delay, Is the Force Still Strong With Disney Plus?

    The issues on Disney Plus’ Obi-Wan Kenobi series are either a minor stumble or a portent of trouble ahead, depending on who you ask. It was reported on Thursday that series writer Hossein Amini was no longer attached to the project as Disney wished to overhaul the scripts. The move led to pre-production in London [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content