ProSiebenSat.1 Sale Pushed Back

Shares in European Broadcasting Giant have slid 30% since February.

COLOGNE, Germany - The planned sale of European broadcasting giant ProSiebenSat.1 has apparently been pushed back on the calendar. Private equity groups KKR and Permira, who together control 88 percent of ProSieben's common stock, were expected to cash out this year but ProSieben shares continue to slide, making a sale unlikely in the short term.

On Monday, ProSieben published the agenda for its annual shareholder meeting on July 1 and it did not include a vote to pool common and preferred stock of the company, a prerequisite, according to most analysts, for an eventual public share selloff by KKR/Permira. Reuters news agency in Germany quotes an unnamed source familiar with the companies' strategy saying the "timeline has been pushed back."

It's not hard to see why. After soaring to more than $34 (€24.5) in November, ProSieben shares had tumbled dramatically, losing more than 30 percent of their value in the past three months. ProSieben stock now stands at under $24 (€17), well below the price KKR and Permira paid for their shares when they took over the company back in 2006.

This despite the companies' best efforts to pretty the bride. Earlier this year, ProSiebenSat.1 sold its sluggish TV channels in Belgium and the Netherlands for $1.4 billion to a media consortium made up of John de Mol's Talpa Holding, Finnish publishing house Sanoma and PE group Waterman & Waterman. The broadcaster is coming off a red-hot first quarter, in which it boosted revenues and nearly doubled profits. CEO Thomas Ebeling is forecasting a record year.

So far, none of that has shown up in ProSieben's stock price. Given the share's current weakness, it seems likely that KKR and Permira will hold off on a stock sale for now. Another alternative would be to sell to a major media concern such as News Corp. or Germany's Axel Springer. But such a deal would face intense scrutiny from Germany's media watchdogs, who in the past have blocked any TV takeover that smelled of media concentration.

Reuters contributed to this report.

 

comments powered by Disqus