The U.S. billionaire and media entrepreneur who birthed the Power Rangers franchise has managed – on his second try – to buy a majority stake in Germany’s largest private TV network, ProSiebenSat.1 Media. In a deal that was finalized on August 11, a subsidiary of Haim Saban’s Saban Capital Group acquired 36% of the share capital of ProSiebenSat.1 (representing 72% of the voting rights) from KirchMedia.
At press time, SCG announced it would make a cash offer for all outstanding shares, at the average price for the three months prior to the acquisition of voting control. The two companies did not disclose the price of the deal, but Saban is reportedly paying US$596 million for the stake, with the size of the deal growing to more than US$1.14 billion when items such as debt guarantees and new investment are taken into account.
The network currently encompasses four TV channels (Sat.1, ProSieben, Kabel 1 and N24) and was owned by Bavarian company KirchMedia, which filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors last year. This is the second attempt by Saban to purchase control. The first deal fell through in June when financing deadlines could not be met.
German producers will be glad to have the Kirch issue settled once and for all since the company’s bankruptcy put many players in the fragile German media market temporarily on tenterhooks, says Peter Voelkle, CEO of Munich-based production company TV-Loonland. ‘More than half of the commercial TV business in Germany was tied up in this saga, and nobody knew what was going to happen,’ he says. ‘Things should pick up now in Germany media.’ Voelkle hopes Saban’s experience in kids programming will mean an increased focus on the genre as the network restructures.
L.A.-based SCG was established in 2001 by Haim Saban, after he sold Saban Entertainment and the rights to the ever-popular Power Rangers property to Disney for US$5.2 billion.