Debt will finance SBS takeover


COLOGNE, Germany -- German commercial TV group ProSiebenSat.1 will finance its planned takeover of pan-European broadcaster SBS largely by taking on new debt, ProSieben CEO Guillaume de Posch said Wednesday.

ProSiebenSat.1, which is controlled by private equity groups Permira and KKR, said it would decide on the SBS deal by the end of July.

De Posch, who has ruled out the possibility of issuing new shares in ProSiebenSat.1 to pay for SBS, said he expects the takeover to go through by the end of this year.

KKR/Permira acquired SBS, which operates 19 free and 20 pay TV channels in nine European countries, in a 2005 deal that valued the group at about $2.5 billion.

A merged ProSiebenSat.1/SBS would create Europe's second-largest television group, behind Bertelsmann-controlled RTL.

Critics of the deal see it as an attempt by KKR and Permira to cash out on SBS after having overpaid for the group in 2005.

De Posch dismissed this, pointing to the independent directors' committee ProSieben set up to audit SBS and come up with an asking price. The three-man committee includes MGM chairman and CEO Harry Sloan, who was head of SBS at the time of the KKR/Permira takeover.

Shares in ProSiebenSat.1 were up 1% in late day trading Wednesday at €26.52 ($35.4).