UPDATE 1-Springer rebuffs talk of ProSieben takeover interest

Tue Mar 1, 2011 5:07am EST

* Says report on interest in ProSieben is pure speculation

* Says not in talks with ProSieben owners KKR, Permira

* Springer shares up 0.8 pct, ProSieben up 1.9 pct

(Writes through, adds report, detail, background)

By Nicola Leske

FRANKFURT, March 1 (Reuters) - Germany's Axel Springer (SPRGn.DE), which attempted to buy ProSiebenSat.1 PSMG_p.DE in 2005, rebutted a media report saying it was in talks with the owners of the German broadcaster about taking a stake in it.

"Reports of interest in ProSiebenSat.1 are pure speculation," a spokeswoman said on Tuesday, adding publisher Axel Springer did not plan to take over ProSieben and was not in talks with the owners, private equity firms KKR [KKR.UL] and Permira [PERM.UL].

German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung had quoted sources close to the negotiations as saying Axel Springer could take a stake of around 25 percent in ProSieben.

Springer, which publishes Germany's best-selling tabloid Bild, had agreed to buy German commercial broadcaster ProSieben in 2005 for 2.5 billion euros ($3.5 billion), but pulled out in the face of anti-trust concerns from Germany's regulator.

German media and antitrust regulators rejected the combination of the country's biggest broadcaster with the country's largest publisher of newspapers on the grounds they would have too much control over public opinion and advertising markets.

The Berlin-based publisher is still however pursuing a fundamental legal decision not only to clarify prospects for the takeover but also to examine its chances for any large acquisitions in Germany and at the end of last year a German court ruled a review of its TV plans was needed. (Additional reporting by Peter Maushagen in Hanover) ($1=.7234 EURO)

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