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Saban, TF1 Near Historic Buy Of Kirch Media

The businesswires are buzzing that entrepreneur Haim Saban and French broadcaster TF1 will most likely buy Germany's biggest broadcast group, Kirch Media. Saban, who ran Saban Entertainment and Fox Family Worldwide before selling off those assets, was in a bidding war with German publisher Heinrich Bauer who stopped making counteroffers this week. This clears the way for Saban and TF1 to clinch a deal valued at about $2 billion to get a 52.2% stake in Kirch's ProSiebenSat.1 and its vast film rights library. Bauer has not withdrawn his last bid, allowing it to remain on the table should things fall out with Saban. Bauer owns a 30% stake in rival network RTL 2 so government watchdogs would take longer to approve his takeover of another German broadcaster. Should the deal go through, it would be the first time a non-German (Saban is an Egyptian-born Israeli American) would control the country's largest commercial broadcaster. Italian media group Mediaset, run by Italy's prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and Rupert Murdoch, head of News Corp., which bought Saban Entertainment and Fox Family from Saban, are both shareholders in Kirch. Murdoch's News Corp. owns U.S. Fox Entertainment Group as well as part of British broadcaster BSkyB. Back at its height, Kirch had an aggressive investment policy in entertainment companies around the world, providing financing to U.S. animation producer Film Roman and investing heavily in financially troubled EM.TV & Merchandising. In recent months Saban has also expressed interest in EM.TV as well as buying its Jim Henson Co.