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31.10.2002 – 17:58

KirchSport AG

KirchSport AG: Management buy-out succeeds

Robert Louis-Dreyfus/Jacobs AG backed offer for KirchSport AG finalised

    Zug (ots)

The board of directors and management of KirchSport AG confirmed today that an agreement has been signed with its parent company, KirchMedia GmbH & Co KGaA, to purchase the company. The agreement requires final consent from the German Cartel Authorities, which is anticipated shortly.

    The management buyout includes KirchSport AG, with its portfolio of top level sports rights, as well as the company holding the broadcast rights to Germany's Bundesliga. This follows the April 2002 insolvency filing of KirchSport's parent company, KirchMedia GmbH & Co KGaA.

    Robert Louis-Dreyfus, based in Switzerland, is the former head of adidas and has supported the management buyout. He has partnered with Jacobs AG and the two will be joint majority shareholders of the company. Robert Louis-Dreyfus and Dr. Christian Jacobs, Chairman of Jacobs AG, will both join the company's board.

    "This company has a strong future centred on proven partnerships with top sports properties. I am pleased to have the support of the existing management which will ensure continuity and allow the company to maintain its focus. To that end, Günter Netzer will remain a board member of the company, as well as Oscar Frei, who will also continue to serve as the company's Chief Executive Officer," said Robert Louis-Dreyfus.

    In addition to Oscar Frei and Günter Netzer, the other members of the management team for KirchSport AG include Michael Francombe, Thomas Huegi, John Kristick, Dominik Schmid, Oliver Seibert and Wolfgang Streit. Their roles with the new company will remain unchanged.

    "We are convinced that the partnership we are now entering with Robert Louis-Dreyfus will be as successful as the past investments by Jacobs AG, such as Adecco, and that we will also be able to draw on our experience in the sports industry, to the benefit of KirchSport AG," said Christian Jacobs.

    This development means that the important FIFA World Cup(tm) broadcast rights, controlled by KirchSport, will continue to be managed by the same experienced team that successfully delivered the television coverage of the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan(tm).

    In addition to purchasing 100% of the Swiss-based KirchSport AG and its subsidiaries - including the rights holding companies that control the 2006 FIFA World Cup( broadcast rights and Host Broadcast Services (HBS) - the transaction includes the exclusive worldwide broadcast rights to Germany's football league, the Bundesliga. This is being achieved through the purchase of Buli Marketing GmbH - the company holding the rights.

    "We are pleased that the management, backed by Mr Louis-Dreyfus, will be able to carry forward the successful business that KirchSport has established. Achieving this continuity is an important accomplishment for the administration," said Mr Hans-Joachim Ziems, Managing Director of KirchMedia.

    Oscar Frei, CEO of the company commented, "I am delighted with the prospect of building on the company's success. The past six months have been challenging for the company, but we have made it through a difficult time exceptionally well, preserving relationships with key federations and successfully delivering the 2002 FIFA World Cup( broadcast project."

    KirchSport AG is one of the world's leading international sports marketing companies, with long-standing relationships with major sports rights holders, including FIFA, the governing body of world football; the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF); the German Football Federation (DFB) and the European Handball Federation (EHF).

    "We are entering a new and exciting phase for the company. We are thankful for the support provided by our dedicated staff members and business partners during the past months - all of them have exemplified the word 'partner' and for this we are extremely appreciative," added Oscar Frei.

    The company will announce further details concerning the integration of the new companies, as well as make an announcement on the future name of the group in the near future.

ots Originaltext: KirchSport AG
Internet: www.newsaktuell.ch

KirchSport AG
John Kristick
Grafenauweg 2
P.O. Box 4442
6304 Zug
Phone:      +41/41/723'15'15
Fax          +41/41/723'15'16
mailto:    john.kristick@kirchsport.com
Internet: http://www.kirchsport.com
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