Discovery acquires SBS Nordic channels

December 14, 2012 12.38 Europe/London By Robert Briel

Sweden’s Kanal 5 is part of the SBS Nordic group

The ProSiebenSat.1 Group is selling its TV and radio business activities in Northern Europe to Discovery Communications.

The news marks another important step for Discovery Communications in acquiring European channel business, including those with digital terrestrial broadcasting outlets. Just recently, Discovery acquired a stake in Eurosport, but the US broadcaster could eventually take full control of the Eurosport group.

The activities of SBS Nordic includes 12 television networks in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, among other assets. The transaction is subject to regulatory review and is expected to close in early 2013.

The ProSiebenSat.1 Group’s production business in Northern Europe (Red Arrow Entertainment Group) is not part of the transaction.

In a statement, the ProSiebenSat.1 Group said “it will further increase its focus on the German-speaking broadcasting and digital and adjacent segments while accelerating its own transformation into a digital entertainment powerhouse.”

The enterprise value underlying the transaction is EUR 1.325 billion. ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG said it intends to use a partial amount of EUR 500 million of the proceeds for a partial prepayment of term debt under the syndicated facilities agreement of the ProSiebenSat.1 Group and the remainder of the proceeds for reinvestment in the business of the group. “Hence a significant portion of the operating cash flow will be available for other purposes. This will increase the company’s capacity for dividend distributions to its shareholders.”

Thomas Ebeling, CEO of ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG, said in a statement: “With Discovery Communications we have found a great new strategic owner, and a truly global media leader, for our Northern European companies. I’m very happy with this result. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our colleagues in the North, and particularly our CEO in these territories, Henrik Ravn, for their outstanding performance in the past years. I wish them every success as part of the Discovery family.”

SBS has the #2 television portfolio in Norway with four networks and an overall viewership share of 34%, the #3 television portfolio in Sweden with two networks and an overall viewership share of 22%, and the #3 television portfolio in Denmark with four networks and an overall viewership share of 19%. SBS Nordic’s operations also include two networks in Finland. The acquisition includes SBS Nordic’s 19 radio stations, including the #1 radio portfolio in Sweden, as well as several digital brands.

“The acquisition of SBS Nordic is a continuation of Discovery’s more than 20-year strategy of investing internationally to build the most extensive global footprint in media, which now includes 153 networks in 217 countries and territories,” said Mark Hollinger, president and CEO of Discovery Networks International.

“We look forward to adding SBS Nordic’s networks and genres to our portfolio, learning from their well-respected and experienced leadership team, and further solidifying the continued growth of our international business, which is led by our strong regional team.”

The SBS Nordic channel business comprises:
Denmark: Kanal 4, Kanal 5, The Voice, 6’eren
Finland: TV5 (+ a new channel planned)
Norway: TV Norge, The Voice, FEM, MAX, VOX
Sweden: Kanal 5, Kanal 9 (+ a new channel planned)

Denmark: The Voice, Pop, Nova, (TV2 Radio in JV with TV2)
Finland: The Voice, Iskelmä, Radio City
Norway: The Voice, Radio 1, Radio Norge
Sweden: Mix Megapol, Rockklassiker, The Voice, Vinyl 107, Radio 107,5