Goldman targets Vox stake: US firm poised for slice of troubled German TV station

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The Independent Online
GOLDMAN SACHS, the Wall Street securities firm, is poised to take a 25.2 per cent stake in Vox, the troubled German television station.

A spokesman said the purchase was under consideration and a decision would be taken shortly. He refused to comment on the motive for the purchase, but said: 'We are active investors worldwide in media properties.'

On Thursday Goldman spent dollars 135m ( pounds 90m) buying 28 per cent of Polo Ralph Lauren, the private New York fashion house.

The Lauren purchase was through GS Capital Partners, a dollars 1bn investment pool run by the firm, dollars 300m of which came from Goldman's partners' funds. Whether the same fund would be used for Vox is unclear.

The Vox purchase has been provisionally considered by German authorities, who said yesterday that a number of questions had to be answered before regulatory approval would be forthcoming.

Bertelsmann, the German media giant, is the driving force behind Vox but its other German television interests have restricted it to a 24.9 per cent stake.

Launched 18 months ago, with an upmarket 'infotainment' brief, the channel has been a disaster, accumulating losses of about DM300m ( pounds 125m).

Bertelsmann, forced to find alternative investors to replace existing shareholders if the station was to survive, turned to Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation after German regulators blocked CLT, the Luxembourg-based media company, because of its existing television holdings.

News took a 49.9 per cent stake, the maximum allowed for a foreign investor, although the deal is being scrutinised by the European Commission for competition reasons.

On Thursday Bertelsmann and News asked regulators to approve the sale of the remaining shares, either held in trust or by Alexander Kluge, a filmmaker, to Goldman.

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