Sep 23, 2022
Berlusconi’s MFE Teams Up With Xavier Niel for M6 Stake
(Bloomberg) -- French media mogul Stephane Courbit joined a list of bidders for a stake in French television company Groupe M6, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Courbit’s bid comes with backing from shipping tycoon Rodolphe Saade and businessman Marc Ladreit de Lacharriere, according to the person. Courbit’s offer follows a previous one already reported by Bloomberg News Friday wherein MFE-MediaForEurope NV, the broadcaster controlled by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, has teamed up with French telecommunications billionaire Xavier Niel for the same asset, according to people familiar with the matter.
The two bidding parties so far have presented a non-binding offer for German media group Bertelsmann SE & Co.’s roughly 48% stake in M6, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information. Representatives for MFE, Niel, Courbit and his backers declined to comment.
Bertelsmann is selling its stake in M6 after a plan to merge the company with Television Francaise 1 SA failed to overcome antitrust hurdles, the people said. The deal to combine France’s two biggest television operators raised concerns the combined company would become dominant in advertising and TV service distribution.
The plan’s collapse was also a blow to French construction and telecommunications conglomerate Bouygues SA, which is TF1’s biggest shareholder. A tie-up would have been a defensive move to create a stronger player in the market to go up against the likes of Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime platform.
Courbit is a TV production entrepreneur whose media company FL Entertainment listed in Amsterdam earlier this year and is behind such TV hits as Black Mirror, Peaky Blinders and MasterChef via Banijay. He’s teamed up for this M6 stake offer with Saade, whose fortune derives from the control of CMA CGM SA and de Lacharriere.
Niel is the founder of telecom group Iliad SA, through which he has invested across Europe. He’s been looking to expand his model based on low costs and low prices. This month, his Atlas Investissement vehicle took a 2.5% stake in British telecom giant Vodafone Group Plc. Earlier this year, Niel also tried -- via Iliad-- to buy the British phone carrier’s Italian unit but his offer, which was backed by private equity Apax Partners LLP, was rejected.
(Adds with new bidding party led by Courbit from 1st paragraph)
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