Herbert Smith advises BSkyB on German move

Herbert Smith is advising BSkyB on its first foray into the German market.

The broadcasting giant is forming a European alliance with German TV group Kirch. BSkyB will take a 24.9 per cent share in the company for Dm2.9bn (£950m).

BSkyB will issue 78 million new shares to Kirch, giving it a 4.3 per cent stake in the global broadcaster.

Herbert Smith is BSkyB's usual corporate adviser. The six-strong team is led by EU partner Dorothy Livingston and corporate partner Michael Shaw.

The group has been trying to crack the German market for several years. Negotiations between BSkyB and Kirch, Germany's leading subscription broadcaster, have been on-going for most of 1999.

A previous attempt at a deal faltered this year after they failed to agree on the ownership rights.

BSkyB also used a German and a US law firm on the transaction, Oppenhoff & Radler and Hogan & Hartson. Both practices have advised BSkyB in the past.

The Kirch group is being advised by German practice Narr Stiefenhofer & Lutz. A Kirch spokesman says: “We have several law firms, but we often work with Narr Stiefenhofer & Lutz.”

The two companies have already held preliminary talks with the monopolies and mergers officials from the European Union about the alliance.

The deal is BSkyB's first major transaction in the German market, although it already holds stakes in the TM3 and Vox TV channels. Kirch also has operations in Austria.