Turkey's Dogan Yayin bidding for ProSieben

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COLOGNE, Germany -- Turkish media giant Dogan Yayin is on the shortlist of bidders for Haim Saban's German broadcasting group ProSiebenSat.1.

A successful takeover by the Turkish company could mark a comeback by failed ProSieben suitor Axel Springer, which Thursday signed a deal to buy 25% of Dogan Yayin broadcasting subsidiary Dogan TV for €375 million ($480 million).

Dogan Yayin has moved on to the second round of bidding for ProSieben, according to a report Friday in the Financial Times Deutschland. Sources near ProSieben said other bidders to make the shortlist include investment consortium KKR/Permira, which control pan-European broadcaster SBS, and Apax/Goldman Sachs.

Bidders on the shortlist will be given a look at ProSieben's books before submitting their final offers, something expected to happen before the end of this year. Saban and his investment partners are thought to be asking at least €3 billion ($3.8 billion) for their 50.5% stake in ProSieben.

Dogan declined comment Friday but the company said Thursday it intends to use the cash from the Springer deal to help finance expansion into neighboring European countries. According to the Financial Times Deutschland, Springer partner Deutsche Bank is backing Dogan's ProSieben bid.

Outside growth might prove the only avenue open to Dogan.

The group has little room to expand in Turkey, where it is already the country's top media player. Dogan owns two of Turkey's leading TV channels, three of its top newspapers and dozens of magazine titles. It is estimated the group controls about 42% of the Turkish advertising market.

But if Turkey succeeds in its bid to join the European Union, the EU could force Dogan to sell off some assets to comply with European media ownership laws.

However, it is far from certain Dogan's bid for ProSieben will be successful. Springer's minority stake in the Turkish group may raise red flags among German antitrust authorities.

Springer already controls 12% of ProSieben and, earlier this year, was close to a deal with Saban to take full control of the TV group. But German media regulators opposed the deal, fearing that combining Springer's print media empire with ProSieben's five free-to-air commercial channels would violate Germany's media concentration laws.

Sources near ProSieben on Friday downplayed Dogan's chances, saying the Turkish company's buyout offer was below some of the other submitted bids.

If Dogan does not take over ProSieben, analysts expect Springer will sell off its 12% stake in the German broadcaster.

"If we hold on to our (ProSieben) stake, if we reduce it or increase it, will first be decided when it is clear who the future majority shareholder will be," a Springer spokeswoman said Friday.
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