RTL Group pulls M6 sale, as German group retains French broadcaster stake

Thomas Rabe

Thomas Rabe

European media giant RTL Group has decided against selling off its French broadcast outfit M6. 

RTL’s CEO, Thomas Rabe, said on Monday night that he would now “continue to pursue [the] strategy to build national media group of sufficient size to compete with the US platforms.”

The RTL chief described M6, which RTL has held a stake in for 35 years, as “one of the best-run TV companies in Europe with an excellent management team, led by its CEO Nicolas de Tavernost” and returned “record operating results” last year.

Complicating M6’s sale was the flagship channel’s licence renewal, which is set to take place next year, and RTL admitted that “the legal risks and uncertainties to be too high.”

RTL, itself owned by Bertelsmann, had reportedly received a trio of offers for the group since it was put up for sale last week after Rabe said he had been “inundated with expressions of interest” following its failed merger with fellow broadcast group TF1, owned by Bouygues.

Banijay chairman Stephane Courbit, Italy’s MediaForEurope (MFE) and Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky all tabled bids to acquire the 48.3% stake held by RTL, according to reports.

Courbit’s proposed €20-a-share deal for the controlling stake – reported last Monday – represented a 39% premium compared with M6’s closing price of €14.43 on Friday, 23 September, valuing the stake at around €1.22bn.

That followed the decision to abandon the merger between M6 and TF1, which was originally announced in May last year. It came after the parties appeared at the hearings of the French Competition Authority’s board on 5 and 6 September, with the two groups concluding that the merger “no longer has any strategic rationale.”


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