Mediaset has effectively doubled its stake in German commercial broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 since last year with a fresh acquisition of shares by its Spanish unit, fuelling speculation about its intentions and the possibility of a takeover bid.
The Italian media company announced yesterday that Mediaset España, its Spanish unit with which it plans to merge under the stalled MediaForEurope project, had acquired a further 9,902,500 shares in the German outfit, equal to a 4.25% stake in its share capital or 4.38% of voting rights excluding treasury shares.
The move takes the Spanish unit’s stake in ProSiebenSat.1 to 9.75%. The company acquired a 5.5% stake in ProSiebenSat.1 in November last year.
Mediaset separately owns a further 9.6% share in the German broadcaster. Mediaset said that the group has to date acquired the availability of 20.1% of voting rights, excluding treasury shares.
Mediaset has been able to take advantage of a significant fall in the price of ProSiebenSat.1 stock, which is down by 60% on a year ago.
There has been speculation that Mediaset might attempt a takeover since the initial Mediaset España acquisition of shares, following Mediaset’s acquisition of its 9.6% stake in May.
Mediaset CEO Pier Silvio Berlusconi made it clear at the time that the move was strategic and motivated by his view that uropean media groups needed to join together to fight off the threat presented by US-based tech and media giants in an increasingly globalised business.
However, ProSiebenSat.1 CEO Max Conze has consistently played down or dismissed the idea of a merger, arguing that such a move would distract both companies from focusing on their core businesses and that it did not make industrial logic.