The radio and television group M6 is once again the subject of a “market test” by its owner RTL Group, a subsidiary of the German Bertelsmann, after the failure of its merger with TF1 (Bouygues group) for competition reasons, learned AFP on Thursday. “Since the announcement last Friday (of the abandonment of the merger with TF1), we have been flooded with expressions of interest to buy back our stake in M6. That is why we are testing the market,” a spokesperson for RTL Group told AFP, confirming information from the Financial Times.
According to the financial daily, takeover bid candidates are asked to make themselves known and submit their offers before Friday.
The German giant Bertelsmann, through its subsidiary RTL Group, holds 48% of the capital of the M6 group, which owns several television channels (M6, W9, 6ter, Teva, Gulli, etc.) and radio stations (RTL, RTL2, Radio fun). At the beginning of 2021, Bertelsmann wanted to withdraw from the French market and, after an initial market test, made the risky decision to merge with TF1, the main competitor of M6 in France.
This marriage, which was supposed to bring important synergies, was finally canceled due to the reluctance of the French competition authority, which demanded drastic remedies to avoid the creation of a dominant player in the market. Several big French (Vincent Bolloré via Vivendi, Xavier Niel, Daniel Kretinsky) and European media names expressed interest in taking over the group at the time, and are likely to bid again.
Other European players are mentioned in the press, notably Italian billionaire Silvio Berlusconi through the MediaForEurope group.
“RTL Group is in no hurry to sell M6. We believe that consolidation will come sooner or later in the French market, with different options. We are patient and can wait,” the group’s spokesman said in its statement.
However, the schedule seems tight because after the renewal of M6’s broadcast authorization, which expires in May 2023, the channel will no longer be able to change shareholders for 5 years.
“Based on the test, we will decide whether to sell or not,” the spokesperson continued. After falling since the beginning of the year on the Paris Stock Exchange, the M6 share has risen since the beginning of the week to around 13 euros, an amount close to its level at the beginning of 2021.