October 18, 2019 / 8:04 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Czech, Slovak investors build stake in Germany's ProSieben

(Updates with statement from investors, adds details)

BERLIN/PRAGUE, Oct 18 (Reuters) - A group of Czech and Slovak investors said on Friday that it had acquired a stake of 4% in ProSiebenSat.1 Media, the German broadcaster at the centre of speculation on possible consolidation in the European TV industry.

Czech Media Invest (CMI), owned by Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky Tkac and Slovak partners Patrik Tkac and Roman Korbacka, confirmed the holding after it was earlier disclosed through a German regulatory filing.

In a statement, CMI said the stake purchase was part of a strategy of building up a portfolio of minority stakes in media companies around Europe.

“This investment is a result of the mandate from our shareholders to ensure further growth within the European media landscape,” CMI’s finance director Branislav Miskovic said in a statement.

“We expect ProSieben to be both a long-term and a strategic investment within our media portfolio,” it added, praising the strength of the ProSieben brand and its position on the German market.

Kretinsky owns 50% of CMI, Tkac 40% and Korbacka 10%. The investment company owns radio stations in the Czech Republic and Romania, and owns the French edition of Elle magazine along with other publishing assets in France.

Kretinsky and Tkac last made news in Germany with a failed bid to take over big-box retailer Metro, where they retain a minority stake and where management is restructuring the business.

Asked for comment, ProSieben said: “We welcome every investor in ProSiebenSat.1 and see this as a confirmation of our strategy.”

ProSieben is, under the leadership of CEO Max Conze, seeking to expand its digital footprint, diversify further into e-commerce and divest its U.S. production assets, to offset weak ad revenues in its core commercial TV business.

Mediaset, the media group built up by Italian former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and now run by son Pier Silvio, earlier this year acquired a stake of nearly 9.6% in ProSieben and said it was open to a possible merger. (Reporting by Douglas Busvine and Jan Lopatka; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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