RTL Group has called off its plan to sell its controlling stake in French TV group M6.
Bertelsmann-owned RTL Group has decided to keep its 48.3% stake in M6 after its planned merger between the French commercial channel and competitor TF1 fell apart amid antitrust concerns.
RTL said the decision follows a review of its strategic options after it received “several financially attractive” offers for its shareholding.
In a statement, RTL Group said it considers the “legal risks and uncertainties to be too high, due to the required approval processes from the antitrust and media authorities, and the timing for the upcoming license renewal for the main channel M6.”
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Dropping the sale of means it will have to wait five years before considering any new bids for the French TV network. M6 will apply for a new five-year broadcast authorisation from May 2023. Once granted by France’s audiovisual authority, Arcom, it cannot change its controlling shareholder for that period of time, under French law.
Thomas Rabe, CEO of RTL Group, says: “RTL Group has been a strategic shareholder in Groupe M6 for 35 years. Groupe M6 is one of the best-run TV companies in Europe with an excellent management team, led by its CEO Nicolas de Tavernost. In 2021, Groupe M6 achieved record operating results. We will continue to pursue our strategy to build national media groups of sufficient size to compete with the US platforms.”
RTL said it remains convinced that market consolidation is necessary to compete with the global tech platforms – and that market consolidation will happen in the European TV markets sooner or later.
RTL and Bouygues, the parent group of France’s biggest private TV network, TF1 ended a plan to merge M6 and TF1 into a national television champion last month, saying demands by the French competition authority made it unworkable.
Banijay chairman Stephane Courbit and a group of investors were among the bidders for M6 Group immediately after the merger fell apart.
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