RTL & Talpa Network merger in Netherlands blocked by local regulator

Thomas Rabe

Thomas Rabe

Media giant RTL Group has been hit by a further regulatory blow after plans to combine its operations in the Netherlands with John De Mol’s Talpa Network were blocked by local competition authority, the ACM.

The proposed merger had been in the works for almost two years but RTL has now revealed that ACM, the Netherlands-based media regulator, could not be persuaded that the deal was in the best interests of the local industry. The decision follows the collapse of the planned merger between RTL-owned M6 and TF1 in France.

ACM is yet to formally confirm the decision in the Netherlands, but RTL and Talpa said on Monday that they “regretted” that the regulator “did not take into account the speed and extent of the changes in the Dutch media landscape and the impact of these changes on local media companies.”

“[RTL & Talpa Network] continue to firmly believe that a merger… would have been the right strategic response to the challenges resulting from the increased competition with the international platforms.”

The deal would have seen Talpa Network contribute its TV, radio, print, digital, e-commerce and other assets to RTL Nederland, in return for a 30% stake in the enlarged RTL Nederland. RTL Group wss set to hold the remaining 70% in the combined group and would continue to fully consolidate RTL Nederland in its accounts.

RTL CEO Thomas Rabe said he remained “convinced that market consolidation is necessary to compete with the global tech platforms”.

But he also sought to reassure investors that RTL Nederland, which operates the Videoland streamerr, will continue to be a robust business in its own right, describing it as “a key asset” for the group, which “is highly profitable with a strong family of channels…”

Sven Sauvé, CEO of RTL Nederland, added: “We can assure our viewers, creators and business partners of our unwavering commitment to build on RTL’s strong position as a leading Dutch media company. RTL Nederland is in good shape, we have an excellent workforce and, with the full support of our shareholder, we will continue to expand our position in the TV, digital and streaming domain.”

The news is the second regulatory blow for RTL in the last six months, after the collapse of the planned merger of RTL-owned M6 and TF1 in France.

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