The Bertelsmann Group has decided to take some time. “We have been working for almost two years on consolidating the sector. This project was probably too early. We regret that, “complained Nicolas de Tavernost.
The sale of the M6 group will not take place. On Monday evening, after a weekend of reflection, the Bertelsmann group decided to give time. “We received three offers, all of which were of high quality. Our shareholder RTL Group, in concert with us, however, deemed it necessary to work better in stability in a complex regulatory framework, points out Nicolas de Tavernost, chairman of the board of directors of M6 before adding: “ I am very happy to continue the adventure with RTL Group that has accompanied our success story for 35 years“.
Three firm offers were on the table at the end of last week. The premiere of FL Entertainment, world leader in audiovisual production (Banijay) controlled by Stéphane Courbit, associated with Rodolphe Saadé, the boss of the naval giant CMA-CGM, and Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière (Fimalac). The second of the couple formed by Xavier Niel, boss of Free and MediaForEurope, the Berlusconi family group. The third, finally, formulated by the Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky, who has a press group in France with CMI (You, Marianne).
The former even valued Bertelsmann’s stake in M6 at around € 1.2 billion, or € 20 per share. This constituted a premium of approximately 57% compared to the current share price, approximately € 12.40. But the sale of the M6, after the failed merger with TF1, came with many pitfalls. After recalling in a press release that “M6 is one of the best managed television companies in Europe“, Thomas Rabe, CEO of Bertelsmann, owner of M6 via RTL Group, precisely justified his decision to keep his 48.3% stake with”excessive legal risks and uncertainties“.
Benoît Coeuré, president of the Competition Authority (ADLC), and Roch-Olivier Maistre, president of Arcom had warned, last week in front of the Senate, that the timetable was “composed”. The authorization to broadcast M6 on DTT will in fact have to be renewed in May 2023 by Arcom. After this deadline, any change in the frequency control will be impossible for five years, as required by law. Problem, the study of a change of capital, subject to the control of Arcom or even the green light of the Antitrust Authority, would have required more time. Too long, he’d been hinting at the Arcom and the ADLC.
“We have been working for almost two years on consolidating the sector. This project was probably too early. We regret it“, Estimated Nicolas de Tavernost. The page has now turned and M6 wants to move on. “I am delighted to see interest in our group. It was very strong. The group will remain the pivot of a consolidation of the French television industry. We remain attractive to local and international partners. RTL does not plan to divest control of M6. But nothing prevents us from collaborating in one form or another with other partners.“.
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