Studio Hamburg takes 45% in Agenda Media

Stefan Aust's non-fiction German production company

COLOGNE, Germany -- German TV giant Studio Hamburg has taken a 45% stake in Agenda Media, the non-fiction production company run by journalist and screenwriter Stefan Aust ("The Baader Meinhof Complex").

Aust will stay on as managing director and, alongside producer Thorsten Pollfuss and fellow journalist Thomas Ammann, as a minority shareholder in Agenda. Aust, for years editor-in-chief at leading German newsweekly Der Spiegel, acquired a 50% stake in Agenda earlier this year.

The deal could be the first in a shopping spree for Studio Hamburg. Several small and mid-sized production firms have been hit hard by the advertising slump in German TV. Studio Hamburg boss Martin Willich has indicated he is looking for firesale opportunities.

"We're looking at German companies, yes," Willich told local business paper WirtschaftWoche.

Studio Hamburg itself has been sailing through the current crisis. Thanks to its heavy reliance on recession-proof public broadcasting commissions, Studio Hamburg expects to book operating profits of around $7 million and revenues of about $400 million this year, on par with last year's results.