Top Italian commercial broadcaster Mediaset, which is being rebranded as MediaForEurope (MFE), is launching a bid to gain full ownership of its Spanish unit Mediaset Espana in move touted as a first step in its stated plan to gain scale in Europe.
The company, which is controlled by the family of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, after a board meeting late on Tuesday revealed that it has given the go-ahead for a public offer in cash and shares to buy the 44.31% stake it does not already own in Mediaset Espana, which is Spain’s leading private free-TV player.
MFE is valuing the Mediaset Espana stake at roughly €780 million euros ($854.6 million).
“The offer represents an important step forward in the creation of a pan-European media and entertainment group,” MFE said in a statement.
The expected move comes after Milan-based Mediaset last year moved its legal headquarters to the Netherlands, changed its shareholding structure and rebranded as MediaForEurope as part of its long-gestating plan to implement a merger and acquisition strategy being pursued by chief executive Pier Silvio Berlusconi, who is Silvio Berlusconi’s son.
Separately, on Monday MFE announced they have crossed the 25% threshold in German broadcasting giant ProSieben, which is Europe’s second-largest TV group in terms of TV home penetration, operates free-to-air and pay-TV channels in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and controls production group Red Arrow Studios.
“The operation makes sense for MFE as part of its strategy to consolidate the European free-to-air sector to create a European operator that can generate synergies,” according to a note issued on Monday by analyst Stefano Gamberini at Italy’s Equita firm.
But while there are clearly cost cutting benefits for MFE in delisting Mediaset Espana from the stock market and combining Mediaset’s Italian and Spanish linear TV units, synergies with ProSieben are more complex.
Though Mediaset holds a controlling ProSieben stake, the German giant’s top management has so far appeared to oppose Piersilvio Berlusconi’s proposals for collaboration. The ProSieben position with regards to MFE’s plan will become more clear after a board meeting on May 5 when MFE is expected to leverage its shareholding power.