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JANUARY 24, 2001

US investment bank set to step in Kirsch void

AMERICAN investment bank Hellman & Friedman are holding talks with EM.TV about buying a 50 per cent stake in F1 holding company SLEC, according to reports.

A similar move by German media giant Kirsch faltered last week.

News agency Reuters has reported that Hellman & Friedman are planning to buy the stake for $700 million (US Dollars), significantly less than the $1.67 billion (US Dollars) EM.TV paid Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone last year.

The report is unconfirmed and relied on an unnamed source.

The source said the bank would attempt to persuade Ecclestone, who owns the rest of SLEC, to refrain from exercising his option to sell a further 25 per cent to EM.TV for an estimated $1 billion (US Dollars), a move which would put financial strain on EM.TV.

Analysts estimate that EM.TV are in debt to the tune of around $1 billion (US Dollars) after it bought its SLEC stake and the Jim Henson Company last year.