Telefónica takes Mediaset stake

Mediaset has agreed to sell an 11.11% stake in its Italian pay TV unit to Telefónica.

Pier Silvio BerlusconiThis is part of a wider agreement that will also see the Italian media giant sell its 22% in Spanish pay TV operator Canal+ to the Spanish telecom leader.

Telefónica has agreed to invest €100 million (US$136 million) in pay operator Mediaset Premium, which will be spun off by Mediaset. The deal gives the new Italian pay TV company that Mediaset intends to create a value of about €900 million, according to the Italian company.

“This partnership marks an important alliance between Mediaset and Telefónica for future cooperation in their respective pay TV activities in terms of technology, know-how and content,” said Mediaset.

The Italian media giant said it will open the new pay TV company to other investors. Mediaset is known to be in talks with Al Jazeera, with France’s Vivendi also believed to be interested in taking a stake.

Mediaset agreed on Friday to sell its stake in Canal+ Spain holding company DTS for up to €365 million, comprising an initial purchase price of €295 million and a further €70 million that is, in part, dependent on the future performance of the operator.

In an interview with Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Mediaset executive VP Pier Silvio Berlusconi said that his company would supply channels to Canal+ under the deal and handle advertising sales for them. Berlusconi also said that Mediaset was open to other international partners for Mediaset Premium in addition to Al Jazeera and Vivendi.

The valuation placed on Mediaset Premium by the Telefónica deal is three times that estimated for the unit – including the 22% stake in Canal+ – by analysts at Italy’s Mediobanca back in April, when it still faced uncertainty about the future allocation of Serie A football rights.

At the time, Mediaset criticised what it described as Mediobanca’s speculative assessment of the unit’s losses. In the Corriere della Sera interview, Berlusconi said that the figure of €400 million in losses that has been speculated represented, in reality, an investment in the future of the company.

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