ProSieben price too steep for Cinven

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COLOGNE, Germany -- Private investment group Cinven has pulled out of the bidding for German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1, exiting its consortium with Apax and Goldman Sachs, according to reports Wednesday in the German media.

The Financial Times Deutschland reports that Cinven balked at the asking price for ProSieben, said to be about €3 billion ($4 billion).

Other bidders for the broadcaster, which is controlled by a group of private investors led by Haim Saban, have until the end of the week to put up or get out. Potential buyers have to submit binding bids by Dec. 12.

ProSieben declined comment Tuesday.

Five bidders remain for Saban and Co.'s 50.5% stake in ProSiebenSat.1: the investment consortia KKR/Permira, the now truncated group of Goldman Sachs/Apax, Turkey's Dogan Yayin Group and two, as yet unnamed, private investment companies.

All the companies on the short list have been granted all-access privileges to ProSieben's books prior to making their offers.

According to the FTD, Cinven thought the "aggressive business plan" laid out by ProSieben CEO Guillaume de Posch as justification for the €3 billion plus price tag was unrealistic.

According to sources near ProSieben, de Posch's plan would see the broadcaster continuing the record rate of growth it has posted in the past three years. De Posch argues that Germany's advertising market is strong and getting stronger and that the rollout of digital TV in the territory is picking up speed.

But some analysts are skeptical. While the German economy is chugging along nicely at the moment, many predict a slowdown after the German government raises the value-added tax from 16% to 19% on Jan. 1.
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