* Springer/Ringier to pay PLN 956 mln for 75 pct of Onet
* TVN shares rise 2.4 pct, Springer flat
By Maria Sheahan and Adrian Krajewski
FRANKFURT/WARSAW, June 4 German publisher Axel
Springer and Swistzerland's Ringier agreed on Monday
to pay $267 million to buy 75 percent of Poland's top Internet
portal Onet.pl from Polish broadcaster TVN to boost
their position in eastern Europe.
For heavily indebted TVN, one of Poland's top two private
broadcasters, the sale will bring the media group back to its
roots after it agreed to forego control of its pay-television
unit to Vivendi's Canal+.
Analysts said they were surprised by the 956 million zloty
price tag Ringier Axel Springer (RAS), which already publishes
Poland's top tabloid and a local version of Newsweek, agreed to
pay for control of Onet.
The price could still increase to over 1 billion zlotys
($279.3 million) at its closing, expected at the turn of 2012
and 2013 after regulatory approval.
The deal values Onet at 1.275 billion zlotys, below its book
value of 1.374 billion zlotys, but much more than analysts had
"I expected 860-870 million zlotys for the whole Onet, while
TVN will get more from the sale of a 75 stake, so it's positive
news for TVN," said Piotr Janik, analyst at KBC Securities.
Shares in TVN, which will retain an indirect 25 percent
stake in Onet, jumped as much as 3.4 percent and were 2.41
percent higher by 1419 GMT. Springer shares were nearly flat.
"The cash consideration will strengthen TVN's capital
structure, as we intend to use the proceeds to reduce our
indebtedness - a key risk mitigating factor in the volatile and
uncertain European macroeconomic environment," TVN Chief
Executive Markus Tellenbach said in a statement.
TVN, which has been fighting headwinds of local advertising
market's malaise as well as high costs of debt in the face of a
volatile zloty currency, said it would book a one-off loss of
350 million zlotys on the deal.
($1 = 3.5799 Polish zlotys)
(Editing by Chris Borowski and Hans-Juergen Peters)