German cartel office objects to Springer’s planned takeover of ProSieben |

German cartel office objects to Springer’s planned takeover of ProSieben

Associated Press

BERLIN – Plans for Axel Springer AG, publisher of Germany’s top-selling newspaper, to take over broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG were in doubt Friday after antitrust authorities registered objections.The German Cartel Office informed the firms Friday that it had “concerns” about the plans, ProSiebenSat.1 said.The cartel office said the deal would limit competition in the television advertising market by putting Springer on a par with Bertelsmann AG, the owner of the RTL television business.”The cartel office believes the combination would leave two symmetrical companies facing one another, who would no longer compete,” ProSiebenSat.1 said. The watchdog also worried about Springer’s powerful national newspaper business, it said.ProSieben said that the office’s letter was “not unusual” and that the companies had time to address its concerns before a final decision expected in December on whether to allow the deal to go ahead.Springer announced in August that it had agreed to buy ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG, Germany’s biggest television company, from a U.S. group for 3.5 billion euros ($3 billion).The deal would dramatically expand Springer’s reach beyond print and give it the ability to package ProSiebenSat.1’s popular programming, including U.S. hit series “Desperate Housewives,” with its top-selling national Bild tabloid and other magazines to generate more ad revenue.ProSieben owns the Sat.1, ProSieben, kabel eins and N24 networks in Germany and controls about 45 percent of the country’s 3.8 billion-euro ($4.5 billion) television advertising market. Bertelsmann owns Stern Magazine and RTL television, which has a market share of about 38 percent.Axel Springer planned to buy a controlling stake from the P7S1 Holding LP consortium led by U.S. tycoon Haim Saban, which acquired ProSieben in 2003 in a bankruptcy auction of assets that belonged to the defunct Kirch Group.Germany’s Association of Journalists has urged that the takeover be blocked to prevent a “monopoly” on media opinion.Vail, Colorado

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