Kirch struggles to secure rescue deal

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Creditor banks and minority shareholders in the struggling German media group Kirch were last night haggling over a rescue deal involving an emergency loan and a larger capital injection in what one analyst called "a complex game of poker".

KirchMedia, Kirch's core television business, needs €230m (£141m) to meet obligations due soon and before a fully fledged rescue of the debt-laden group can be attempted, sources said.

Kirch, a sprawling media empire with big stakes in Germany's largest commercial broadcaster, the Formula One motor racing business and the rights to World Cup football, has run up huge debts and has been hit by losses suffered by its pay-TV arm.

Its woes may lead to the break-up of the company and a redrawing of the media map in Germany, finally providing foreign players such as Rupert Murdoch with a major role.

Kirch's creditor banks have proposed that shareholders, which also include Mr Murdoch's News Corp, provide up to half of the bridge financing very soon, banking sources said.

"It would be a major setback if we couldn't get through on the bridge financing before the Easter holidays," one banking source said. "But insolvency isn't a matter of the next 24 hours."