French broadcaster M6 for sale after abandoned TF1 merger

Thomas Rabe

Thomas Rabe

Bertelsmann has put French broadcaster M6 up for sale following the collapse of plans to merge it with TF1 last week.

Thomas Rabe, CEO of the European media giant, told the Financial Times that he has sought non-binding offers for the company after being “inundated with expressions of interest” following its failed merger with fellow broadcast group TF1.

“This is why we are ‘testing the market’. We will decide on the basis of the test whether to sell or not,” explained Rabe. Bertelsmann-backed RTL Group holds a near-50% stake in M6.

The decision to abandon the merger, which was originally announced in May last year, came after the parties appeared at the hearings of the French Competition Authority’s board on 5 and 6 September. The result was that the two groups concluded “the proposed merger no longer has any strategic rationale.”

French business leaders including Banijay’s Stéphane Courbit, CMA CGM Group chairman Rodolphe Saadé and investor Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière are among those considering bids, according to the Financial Times, while Vivendi, Mediawan and MediaForEurope have also reportedly expressed interest.

The failure of the merger will please opponents such as service provider Free, which argued that the pair should not be allowed to merge because the combined entity would control 75% of the French TV advertising market.

Others, such as Altice Group were broadly in favour, hoping to be able to purchase digital channels that the combined group offered to sell.

Tags: Bertelsmann, M6

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