There is much international interest for the 43% share in commercial broadcaster ATV that the Austrian Bank für Arbeit und Wirtschaft und Österreichische Postsparkasse (Bawag) wants to put up for sale. The bank hopes to raise between €100 and €150 million for its share in Austria’s sole national commercial broadcaster with a terrestrial licence.
ATV launched in June 2003 and has developed from a local Vienna station into the nation’s only national alternative to public broadcaster ORF. Bawag wants to sell its interest and has hired investment bank Rothschild to handle the sale. Among the interested parties are RTL, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) and Permira (who recently acquired the ProSiebenSat.1 group) as well as Central European Media Enterprise (CME).
Replying to earlier reports in Austrian newspaper Der Standard, Telekom Austria and gaming company Novomatic have declined to comment on reports in the weekend edition it is interested in buying ATV. The plan was to gain full control of the loss-making channel and turn it into a gambling channel. The remaining 57% of ATV is owned by German movie mogul Herbert Kloiber. Insiders estimate total losses of the channel now amount to over €500 million.