Premiere CEO, board OK $338 mil in shares

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COLOGNE, Germany -- In his first act as the new head of German pay TV group Premiere, CEO Michael Bornicke and Premiere's board approved the issue of up to €250 million ($338 million) in new Premiere shares.

Premiere plans to use the capital in its upcoming bid for rights to Germany's top soccer league, the Bundesliga. Soccer is the primary draw for German pay TV subscribers. Premiere currently has a deal to sub-license the Bundesliga from cable group Unity Media through 2008.

The Unity Media deal didn't come cheap. Premiere has agreed to pay €100 million ($135 million) per season. Unity Media also took a 17% stake in Premiere as part of the deal, a stake valued at about €320 million ($430 million)

Bidding on the 2009-12 Bundesliga seasons will begin later this year.

"This planned share issue should increase Premiere's room to maneuver ... especially in regards to the bidding for Bundesliga rights," said Bornicke, who took over as CEO following Georg Kofler's exit last week.

JPMorgan is acting as global coordinator for the share issue. Joint lead managers on the issue will be JPMorgan and UniCredit Markets & Investment Banking.
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