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Kirch Founder Testifies at EM.TV Trial

Discussion in 'Muppet Headlines' started by Traveling Matt, Nov 11, 2002.

  1. Traveling Matt

    Traveling Matt New Member

    Courtesy of Yahoo! News

    MUNICH, Germany-

    The founder of the failed Kirch media empire, testifying Monday at the trial of the former chief of a media company charged with misleading investors, shed little light on dealings between the two companies that figure in the case.

    EM.TV founder Thomas Haffa and his brother Florian Haffa, the former finance chief, are charged with stock-price fraud in the first trial related to the demise of Frankfurt's Neuer Markt. Accused of knowingly publishing misleading corporate figures in August 2000, the brothers claim they were counting on a number of deals, among them one with Leo Kirch.

    Kirch, 76, told the court that he had reached an understanding in principle with Thomas Haffa to sell EM.TV 250 episodes of the cartoon show "The Simpsons" for 30 million marks (US$15 million) in summer 2000.

    According to the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, which cited court documents, Thomas Haffa later told his supervisory board he had an "arrangement" to sell the episodes for 243 million marks (US$122 million) to the ProSieben television channel — in which Kirch held a majority stake.

    Kirch said he couldn't confirm that agreement. But as an "optimistic person," Haffa probably believed the deal could be concluded that year, he added.

    The media-shy entrepreneur whose group collapsed early this year under debts totaling 6.5 billion euros (US$) described EM.TV founder Thomas Haffa as "a good friend," and complimented Haffa on his sales skills during the rare public appearance.

    Kirch's former business manager, Dieter Hahn, testified that he was "not aware that there was any agreement."

    Kirch, who has been nearly blind for years, was led to his place in the court by an assistant. When presiding judge Huberta Knoeringer tried to show him a contract, he said: "I can't see it. I can't see you either — I can only hear you."

    "I hope I expressed myself clearly," a visibly confident Kirch said at the end of his testimony. "I understood myself."

    EM.TV produces and distributes cartoons and handles German-language licensing and merchandising rights, including the rights for Pokemon.

    Thomas Haffa founded EM.TV in 1989 and made it a star of the Neuer Markt, Europe's answer to the U.S. Nasdaq.

    Kirch told the court that "Thomas Haffa was a much better salesman than me," which had prompted him to set up a joint venture, Junior TV, with Haffa's company in 1998.

    "I thought it more likely that Thomas would buy me than that I would take him over," said Kirch, who appeared without a lawyer.
    But dramatic moves such as buying the Jim Henson Company, owner of the Muppets, proved flawed, piling up debt and leading to a loss of 2.8 billion marks (now US$1.4 billion) in 2000.
    EM.TV stock hit a peak of 109.59 euros in February 2000. It is now trading at 1.03 euros (US$1.04).

    Prosecutors maintain the Haffa brothers presented the company's development too positively in interviews and speeches in October and November of 2000, and reiterated earnings targets that they knew were out of reach.

    As late as November 2000, EM.TV said it was aiming for a profit of 600 million marks (dlrs 305 million) for the year.

    The brothers have denied any wrongdoing, and Thomas Haffa has testified that he always represented the state of the business "to the best of my knowledge."

    "With one single big contract, we could still have reached the earnings target," he said last week.

    The two could face up to three years in prison if convicted. The trial, the first involving managers of a Neuer Markt company, is expected to last until January at least.

    In September, Germany's stock exchange operator announced it would dump the index after a 2 1/2-year plunge that wiped out almost all the market's value and move companies to a more tightly regulated new listing system.

    ==============================================

    http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20021111/ap_wo_en_po/germany_em_tv_trial_1

    - Billy :cool:
     
  2. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    This could have all been avoided if Brian would just have turned the JHC over to me and my MC family.

    but, nobody listens to the Foz.
     
  3. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Heck! I listen to the Foz, but I have no real power. I don't even have right of first refusal.....
     
  4. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    Oh, too bad. I'm always being refused.

    Whatever that means...

    FOZ
     


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