Discovery buys TV channels in Europe

Jörn Krieger | 14-12-2012

US media company Discovery Communications is to considerably expand its activities in Europe through acquisitions amounting to more than €1.5 billion, making the group Europe's largest pay-TV operator.

In northern Europe, Discovery will take over the channels operated by German media company ProSiebenSat.1 for €1.3 billion. The purchased portfolio comprises all TV and radio assets in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark, including 12 TV and 19 radio channels. ProSiebenSat.1's production business in northern Europe (Red Arrow Entertainment Group) is not part of the transaction.

"SBS Nordic has a fully distributed portfolio of dual revenue stream networks with a terrific management team that will expand Discovery's footprint across the Nordic region which includes some of the well-penetrated and stable TV markets in the world," said David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery Communications.

Mark Hollinger, president and CEO of Discovery Networks International, added: "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. 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."

If the antitrust authorities give the green light, the deal will be closed in Q1 2013.
ProSiebenSat.1, which is in majority owned by investment groups KKR and Permira, wants to use the cash injection to repay parts of its debts and to issue a dividend to its shareholders.
Through its exit in northern Europe, ProSiebenSat.1 will focus on its core market of German-speaking Europe. In April 2011, the Munich-based company sold its activities in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Discovery also wants to take - for €170 million - a 20% stake in Eurosport group, a subsidiary of the French commercial broadcaster TF1. For another €14 million, Discovery wants to acquire a 20% shareholding in TF1's thematic channels TV Breizh, Histoire, Ushuaïa TV and Stylía.