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Business

Springer, Bauer Eye Majority Stake in Kirch Media

People close to the publishing groups said they plan to take a 51% stake in the insolvent core unit of Leo Kirch’s media empire and that they are open to teaming up with other investors.

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Empire building: The Springer Verlag wants to expand its interests in Kirch Media.

Publishing groups Axel Springer Verlag AG and privately held Heinrich Bauer Verlag together plan to take a 51% stake in insolvent Kirch Media, people close to the companies said on Tuesday.

Both Springer and Bauer were open to joining forces with other investors, these people said. Talks with banks and media companies were currently underway.

Neither company on Tuesday was willing to comment on the state of the talks or say anything about the identity of potential partners.

On Monday evening, newspaper publisher WAZ Mediengruppe unexpectedly decided against joining a consortium of Commerzbank AG and Hollywood studio Columbia TriStar in their bid for the former core unit of Leo Kirch’s media empire. Commerzbank on Tuesday stressed that it planned to continue to pursue in an investment in the unit.

Meanwhile, overall interest in Kirch Media appears to be waning. Industry insiders said that the number of interested parties had now shrunk from 80 to 15.

Springer’s and Bauer’s interest is focused on Kirch Media’s television group Pro Sieben Sat1 Media AG.

Kirch Media’s insolvency proceedings opened officially on Monday. A preliminary decision on an investor is due to be taken at a meeting of creditors on August 1.

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