Media mogul Stephane Courbit and his investor partners are said to have offered 20 euros a share for Bertelsmann SE & Co.’s stake in Groupe M6, according to a person familiar with the situation.
That’s a 39% premium compared to Friday’s close of 14.43 euros per share, and it values the roughly 48% stake at around 1.22 billion euros ($1.18 billion). A representative for Courbit declined to comment on Sunday.
Courbit’s all-cash bid comes with backing from shipping tycoon Rodolphe Saade and businessman Marc Ladreit de Lacharriere, Bloomberg reported on Saturday. The offer follows a previous one in which MFE-MediaForEurope NV, the broadcaster controlled by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, teamed up with French telecommunications billionaire Xavier Niel for the same asset.
Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky also made an offer for the stake, another person familiar with the situation said. A representative for him didn’t immediately reply when asked for comment Sunday outside of normal business hours.
Vivendi SE, controlled by billionaire Vincent Bollore, and owner of pay-TV Canal+, didn’t submit an offer, people familiar with the matter said. A representative for Vivendi didn’t immediately reply when asked 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 deal to combine France’s two biggest free-to-air broadcasters raised concerns that the combined company would dominate 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, 57, 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 Entertainment. He’s teamed up for this M6 stake offer with Saade, whose fortune derives from control of shipping company CMA CGM SA, and de Lacharriere.
Niel is the founder of the telecom group Iliad SA, through which he’s 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. His offer, which was backed by private equity Apax Partners LLP, was rejected.
The timing of the sale comes as Italians are set to vote in elections on Sunday, which could see a victory of an alliance which is led by far-right candidate Giorgia Meloni and includes Berlusconi.
(Updates with Kretinsky bid in 4th paragraph)
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