EM.TV & Merchandising has parted with its shares in Hamburg-based TFC Holding, Israel's Talit.TV & Communications and Stockholm-based Plus Licens AB as part of its strategic reorientation.
EM.TV had acquired the holdings during the Neuer Markt's boom phase between September 1999 and February 2000, but the decision to sell was taken "since the investments did not fulfil profit expectations and also no longer have strategic value for EM.TV", said the company in a statement.
In the case of the TFC animation studio, EM.TV has sold its 60% share to the original partners Michael Schaack and Thomas Walker for the symbolic sum of one Euro. At the same time, EM.TV will meet an open loan commitment for Euros 800,000 and, in return, will participate in the proceeds should these shares be resold by Schaack and Walker before the end of 2004.
In line with Israeli law, the 50% stake in Tel Aviv-based Talit was sold to the company itself for $1.3m; and Talit has committed to assume TV and similar rights from EM.TV by 2005 for a total $1m.
Moreover, the original partners of the Swedish merchandising company Plus Licens have received EM.TV's shareholding of 50% for a symbolic price and, assuming all legal niceties are clarified, will continue to pursue business relations with EM.TV. At the same time, the exclusive link for EM.TV to the Scandinavian and East European markets will now be terminated.
Meanwhile, the Axel Springer publishing group has decided to exercise a $675m 'put option' forcing the KirchGroup's KirchMedia to acquire its 11.5% stake in the ProSiebenSAT.1 Media family of broadcasters.
According to press reports earlier this week discussions had been underway between Kirch and Springer to postpone the payment due this month (Jan) since Kirch would be hard pressed at the moment to find the cash to meet the option. Kirch's empire is reportedly burdened with debts of up to $5.3bn (DM 12bn) and contingent liabilities of $2.2bn (DM 5bn).
Given Kirch's precarious position, Springer has declared that the payment will be due within three months rather than immediately.
However, KirchMedia has responded by revealing that some elements of the original contract for the put option had never been fully clarified and thus any agreements were regarded as inoperative.
According to KirchMedia, the recent negotiations had centred on proposals to Springer "which would have solved ASV's problem clearly legally and economically in the interest of ASV". KirchMedia now sees itself forced to take legal proceedings "to protect its interests" as Springer has indicated that it wishes to press ahead "despite the legal reservations of KirchMedia".