KKR, Permira Looking to Sell ProSiebenSat.1

Pan-European broadcaster could be sold by the end of next year.


BERLIN -- Private equity investors KKR and Permira are reportedly looking to sell pan-European broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 by the end of next year.

KKR and Permira see a window of opportunity to cash out on the TV group, for which they paid $4 billion for a majority stake back in 2006. Germany's advertising market bounced back this year, lifting ProSieben's bottom line and share price and making the network look like a solid business after all.

It is not clear if KKR and Permira will float their ProSieben stakes on the market -- currently only non-voting preferred shares in the company are traded publicly -- or sell the group to a third-party investor. Both KKR and Permira declined comment.

If Germany's stock market stays buoyant, a stock float seems most likely. If not, KKR and Permira will have to find a suitable suitor and convince German and European regulators to approve the deal. That last point could prove difficult. German media watchdogs have previously blocked attempts to sell ProSiebenSat.1 to local media moguls and have frowned on outside players (think Rupert Murdoch or Silvio Berlusconi) buying into the country's number two commercial network.

But ProSieben is already being prettied up for sale. CEO Thomas Ebeling has said the group was looking to sell off smaller or less-profitable channels outside its core German market -- essentially dumping the red ink assets connected to SBS Broadcasting.

ProSieben bought SBS in 2007 for around $4.5 billion. The deal was criticized at the time because KKR and Permira were major shareholders in both companies. Many analysts also thought the SBS price tag was too high, given the fact that all of SBS' channels are in small to mid-sized European markets.

Three years after the deal, nearly 70% of ProSieben's revenue still comes from its German-speaking operations, not its SBS assets.

But a ProSieben sale could prove Dutch treat for Big Brother creator John de Mol. The head of Telegraf Media Group is reportedly looking to buy commercial net SBS Netherlands from ProSieben, should the group put it on the block.