Germany's Axel Springer Books Record Results in 2010, Eying ProSiebenSat.1


Spinger booked operating profits of $706 million on $4 billion of revenues last year.


COLOGNE, Germany -- German old media giant Axel Springer could be eying a major stake in European TV group ProSiebenSat.1 after a record year.

Spinger, which owns German tabloid newspaper Das Bild and daily broadsheet Die Welt, booked operating profits of $706 million ($510.6 million) on $4 billion of revenues last year, strongly up on 2009 and the company's best-ever results.

Now Springer is thought to be circling ProSiebenSat.1, Germany's number two broadcast network, looking to take a substantial minority stake. Permira and KKR, the private equity groups that control ProSieben, are expected to dump most of their shares in the company this year and media reports suggest Springer could pony up for as much as 25 percent of the network.

Springer's previous attempts to buy up all of ProSiebenSat.1 were blocked by local media watchdogs, so Springer is more likely to settle for a strategic minority stake in the broadcaster.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, the largest shareholder in leading German pay TV group Sky Deutschland, is also thought to be eying ProSieben.

But while Springer may be laying its biggest bets on old media, it isn't ignoring the digital future. Nearly $1 billion of Springer's sales, or just under a quarter of the company's total, came from digital media sources.

Operating revenue from digital media nearly doubled to $119 million.