Media giant Bertelsmann-RTL renounces to sell M6

Media giant Bertelsmann, parent company of RTL Group, has decided to keep its majority stake of 48.3% in Groupe M6, despite several offers “financially attractive”, he announced Monday, October 3. The Bertelsmann group was seeking to sell its majority stake in the capital of M6 (owner of the M6, W9, 6ter, Gulli and Paris Première channels and RTL, RTL2 and Fun Radio radios) after the failure of the merger with TF1, which was abandoned because reluctance from the Competition Authority.

Its leader Thomas Rabe explained this reversal on Monday by “legal risks and uncertainties” linked to the authorization of the sale by the various regulatory and competition authorities. The authorization to broadcast M6 on DTT must be renewed in May 2023 by the audiovisual regulator, Arcom, after which any change in frequency control will be impossible for five years, as provided for by law.

Two offers

“The schedule is more than ultra-tight”said last Wednesday its president Roch-Olivier Maistre, heard by the Culture Committee of the Senate, to which the president of the Competition Authority, Benoît Coeuré, had made the same speech last Tuesday.

Two takeover offers were in the running, however, according to several sources. The first, which valued Bertelsmann’s stake in M6 at around 1.2 billion euros, came from FL Entertainment, a listed audiovisual production and sports betting group controlled by the Frenchman Stéphane Courbit, associated in particular for the occasion with Rodolphe Saadé, the boss of the shipping giant CMA-CGM.

The second proposal was signed by billionaire Xavier Niel (Iliad group), present both in production via the Mediawan group and in content distribution via the operator Free. The businessman had teamed up for the occasion with the Berlusconi family, which controls the MediaForEurope group (formerly Mediaset).

Despite its decision to retain its stake in the capital of M6, “RTL Group remains convinced that market consolidation is necessary to compete with global technology platforms – and that market consolidation will happen sooner or later in European TV markets”he said in his press release. “With a strong presence across television, radio and streaming, Groupe M6 will play a key role in any further consolidation of the French television industry”he added.

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