A group that includes existing minority shareholders has become the third party to enter the bidding for the core assets of insolvent German media outfit KirchMedia.
The group, which is understood to have submitted a bid of around Euros2.5bn ($2.44bn) includes Saudi prince Al-Waleed bin Talal's Kingdom Holdings, investment bank Lehman Brothers and German retail group Rewe.
The consortium joins two others on a short listed of potential buyers currently under examination by KirchMedia creditors. One comprises of US media investor Haim Saban in tandem with French broadcaster TF1, the other consortium includes Columbia TriStar, Germany's Commerzbank, Rhineland-based publishing group WAZ and Sony.
According to reports in German newspaper Der Spiegel, Italy's Mediaset - which had been linked to the Lehman/Rewe/Kingdom bid - has withdrawn from the race. Citing sources close to the negotiation, Der Spiegel said Mediaset owner and Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi had decided against a bid on political grounds.
Earlier this year German chancellor Gerhard Schroder warned that any prospective sale of KirchMedia to the head of a foreign government might have adverse long-term political consequences.
Though Kirch creditors are understood to have turned down a Euros1.9bn bid from German publishers Axel Springer, Heinrich Bauer and the HypoVereinsbank, Der Siegel said the consortia were still open and that all three could recruit new partners before a final deal is struck.