Saban Entertainment, the US television production and distribution group, is understood to have submitted the highest bid of around Euros2.6bn for the assets of the insolvent KirchMedia.
French broadcaster TF1 is understood to have put in the next richest bid, worth Euros2.2bn, according to German finance magazine Focus. The consortium bid involving German publishers Axel Springer, Bauer and the HypoVereinsbank is tendering Euros1.9bn. The other three bids are believed to be in the Euros1bn-1.9bn range.
Commenting on the range of bids, KirchMedia managing director Wolfgang van Betteray said "the great interest by potential investors impressively confirms our assessment that the restructuring of KirchMedia can be successfully completed in the coming months and the company preserved in its core business". But some creditors had hoped for bids to reach $3.5bn
Saban which received $1.45bn from the sale of its holding in the Fox Kids channel to Buena Vista, has had regular business dealings with Kirch over the years as a supplier. Saban's credits include the amazingly successful Mighty Morphin Power Ranger cartoon series. But that the top two bids came from foreign companies may reflect attempts to win over Germany's notoriously xenophobic media regulators.
Kirch Media holds worldwide broadcast rights to the 2006 World Cup and TV rights to the Bundesliga soccer matches and it owns one of the world's largest feature film libraries. But probably its most tangible - and politically most sensitive - asset is its 52.5% stake in the ProSieben and SAT 1 commercial TV channels.
A decision will now be made as to which of the seven will be invited to undertake a more detailed due diligence of KirchMedia's books, and the successful bid should be finalised by the end of August or beginning of September.
The KirchMedia management reported that a total of $8.4bn receivables had been registered by the concern's creditors. In the last financial year, KirchMedia posted revenues of $1.3bn and a loss of $2.14m, with total assets amounting to $3.1bn.