Zee eyes German b'caster's entertainment unit

Bid $100 million for sportscaster, reports say

Mumbai-based broadcaster Zee Telefilms has reportedly bid $100 million to acquire German broadcaster EM.Sport Media AG's entertainment division.

Zee did not comment, while EM.Sport Media neither confirmed nor denied the rumored bid, first reported Thursday in Indian business paper the Economic Times. An EM.Sport Media spokesperson indicated only that the company hopes to "reach a deal sometime this year."

EM.Sport Media is spinning off its kids entertainment division EM.Entertainment -- which includes a massive library of animated series, pay TV net Junior TV and Australian production studio Flying Bark Prods. -- to focus on its sports business. EM owns German sports channel DSF and live sports production company Plazamedia.

Observers feel that if the acquisition goes through, then Zee -- one of India's most successful broadcasters, with a market cap of $2.3 billion -- would gain an important foothold in Europe.

EM.Entertainment has long-running strategic ties with major free- and pay TV operators across Europe.

After failing to find a buyer for the unit last year, EM drastically reduced its asking price, adjusting the book value of EM.Entertainment downward from about $135 million to about $60 million.

Potential buyers also would likely take on EM.Entertainment's debt load, estimated at $30 million-$40 million.

Nyay Bhushan reported from New Delhi; Scott Roxborough reported from Cologne, Germany.