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Germany’s largest private TV network sells news channel N24

After long time discussions about the future of N24, one of the two private news channels in Germany, ProSieben today announced to sell the channel to a consortium of managers of N24 and Stefan Aust (former chief editor of the famous German news magazin “Der Spiegel”).

Background: ProSiebenSat.1 Germany’s largest private network was bought by a financial investor who was not very happy with the revenues of the news section. End of last year the management announced to cut off jobs this summer (there were rumours of a 50% cut).
With the now announced management buy out, it will be exciting to see, how the programm and strategy will be changed. For sure, there are very well reputable journalists having the lead now, and the strategy is no longer dictated by investor needs. Sources just told me, that the employees of N24 are O.K. with the latest development. Of course they would have liked more, to stay with ProSiebenSat.1, because of its market power. However, they are very happy that the Russian investor “Dmitri Lesnewski” did not win the battle for N24 in the end.
 
Official announcement:
Purchase agreement also includes MAZ&MORE production company
Germanys largest independent TV information producer to be headquartered in Berlin
News supply agreement signed until end of 2016
Peter Limbourg joins ProSiebenSat.1 as Senior Vice President News & Political Information

Munich, June 16, 2010. A share purchase agreement was signed today in Munich between ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG and the newly founded N24 Media GmbH, for the acquisition of news station N24 and the MAZ&MORE production company. On consummation of the transaction, N24 management around Dr. Torsten Rossmann, Stefan Aust and Thorsten Pollfuss will hold all shares of both of the acquired entities. The resulting company will be Germanys largest independent TV information producer. It will be headquartered in Berlin.

In addition to the purchase agreement, the parties also signed a contract for the new company to deliver all news programming for stations SAT.1, ProSieben and kabel eins until the end of 2016. The newly founded company will also provide SAT.1 Frühstücksfernsehen and SAT.1-Magazin until at least mid-2014.

A new independent information service provider in Berlin
Said Thomas Ebeling, CEO of ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG: The N24 management team, Stefan Aust and Thorsten Pollfuss impressed us with their concept. Long-term contracts with ProSiebenSat.1 will give them the stability they need to get N24 Media established as a new independent information service provider in Berlin. At the same time, the contract ensures that our stations will have a long-term supply of high-quality news programming. This arrangement has given us a journalistically and economically sound base for our news and the solution is a very good outcome for our stations, our viewers, and the employees of N24.

Reliable long-term supply of high-quality news programming secured
The sale will cause no changes in the amount of news programming on the ProSiebenSat.1 Groups stations. Said Ebeling: Working with a strong N24 Media is the best way for us to sharpen our stations information profile further. The team surrounding Torsten Rossmann and Stefan Aust stands for top-quality news coverage. And we want to try new approaches together, especially in political reportage. In terms of content, I see the founding of N24 Media as an important contribution toward strengthening the diversity of providers in the news industry.

As part of the management buyout, Peter Limbourg will transfer to ProSiebenSat.1, as Senior Vice President News & Political Information. In addition to his new role within the Group, he will continue to anchor the SAT.1 evening news.

Said Andreas Bartl, the Executive Board Member for German Free TV at ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG: Peter Limbourg is a top-notch newsman of a quality that is rare in Germany. Im delighted that he will now be working directly with ProSiebenSat.1 to strengthen our stations political informational programming.

A concept with a future
The disposal of N24 will entail costs of up to EUR 41 million for the ProSiebenSat.1 Group. Additionally up to EUR 12 million of write downs of non-current assets are expected. These effects will be recognized as non-recurring expenses in the income statement for the second quarter of 2010. On the whole, the ProSiebenSat.1 Group expects the transaction to improve recurring EBITDA by at least EUR 25 million per year, starting in 2011. Accordingly, the disposal will have a positive effect on the Groups recurring EBITDA already for 2010 on a pro rata basis after closing.

Said Thomas Ebeling: The management submitted a concept that will significantly improve efficiency, provide a future perspective for many employees, and bring real opportunities for the new company. I particularly want to thank Torsten Rossmann and the entire staff for their commitment, and I wish N24 Media every success.

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