A breakdown of the Kirch media empire’s creditor banks, structure and key assets at the time it filed for insolvency.
SAT.1 headquarters in Berlin
Leo Kirch’s media empire started small in 1956 but thrived as a group of companies before succumbing to debts. His power base was always the core rights and television unit, KirchMedia, which collaborated strategically with other companies such as KirchPayTV and KirchBeteiligung, under the umbrella of his Taurus Holding.
The group has at least 6.5 billion euros of debt and owes money to eight investment banks, Reuters reports, all but one of which are German. They are Bayern LB (1.9 billion euros), Deutsche Bank (700 million euros), HypoVereinsbank (460 million), Dresdner Bank (460 million), DZ Bank (400 million), Commerzbank (350 million), Lehman Brothers (250-300 million) and JP Morgan Chase (250-300 million).
Taurus Holding GmbH
The holding company spans KirchGruppe’s three units – KirchMedia, KirchPayTV and KirchBeteiligung. 100 percent-owned by the the private Kirch Foundation, Leo Kirch himself is the chief executive officer.
The revenue, net income and debt of Taurus Holding are not made public.
KirchMedia controls the group’s rights to films and sports, movie and television production companies, as well as 52 percent of Germany’s largest commercial broadcaster, ProSiebenSAT.1. KirchMedia is 72.6 percent-owned by Taurus Holding and 6.5 percent-owned by Leo Kirch’s son Thomas. Other shares are held by investment banks JP Morgan Chase and Lehman Brothers, companies controlled by the family of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, Saudi Prince Al-Waleed, and private equity firms. KirchMedia is led by chief executive Dieter Hahn.
The company’s debt was 2.2 billion euros at the end of third quarter 2001. The year before, KirchMedia posted revenue of 3.3 billion euros and net profit of 536 million euros.
KirchPayTV is the group’s big loser, operating Germany’s only subscription television channel, Premiere. It has 2.4 million customers, well below growth targets, and has accumulated losses 3.2 billion euros during the past five years. KirchPayTV is 69.8 percent-owned by Taurus Holding and 22 percent-owned by Rupert Murdoch’s BskyB. The rest is split between Lehman Brothers and private equity houses including Al-Waleed’s Kingdom Holdings. The chief executive officer is Georg Kofler.
In 2001, the company posted 813 million euros in revenue but a core loss of 864.9 million euros. Debt in 2001 was 962 million euros.
KirchBeteiligung ("Kirch’s stake", in English) is a vehicle for miscellaneous media holdings that do not fit directly into the KirchMedia and KirchPayTV rubrics. Assets include a 40 percent stake in publishing house Axel Springer, publisher of the popular tabloid newspaper Bild, and a 56 percent stake in the Formula One motor racing business.
KirchBeteiligung is 100 percent-owned by Taurus Holding, run by co-chief executives Leo Kirch and Klaus Piette, and it does not publicly declare revenue, income or debt.