Shares in ailing German media concern EM.TV & Merchandising hit a 2001 low on Thursday amidst speculation that the Germany cartel office could block the KirchGroup's plans to invest in the company.

Speaking to Financial Times Deutschland, an official at the cartel authority was quoted as saying that the office "will present our legal view to those concerned shortly, and this is certain to be that, in the present situation, we will be proceeding from the assumption that there will a prohibition".

Kirch aims to take a 16.74% equity stake and 25% voting rights. But the cartel office has indicated that it would only be likely to greenlight such a move if EM.TV divested itself of its 45% interest in the Tele-Muenchen-Group (TMG). EM.TV, which spans licence trading and merchandising, saw its stock tumble 8.33% by late afternoon as a result of the latest speculation.

In an interview with Reuters, EM.TV chief executive Thomas Haffa said that there were six parties interested in taking over EM.TV's stake in TMG. However, TMG boss Herbert Kloiber has reportedly rejected all of EM.TV's proposals to date and is apparently more interested in buying back the shareholding himself.

In a separate move, Haffa this week vacated the position of chairman of TMG's advisory council in favour of Munich lawyer Heinrich Luebbert.