The M6 television and radio group is 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 competitive reasons, AFP learned on Thursday. “Since the announcement last Friday (of the abandonment of the merger with TF1), we have been inundated with expressions of interest in buying our stake in M6. This is why we are testing the market”, indicated to the AFP a spokesperson for RTL Group, confirming information from the Financial Times.
According to the economic daily, takeover candidates are asked to make themselves known and send their offers before Friday.
The German giant Bertelsmann holds through its subsidiary RTL Group some 48% of the capital of the M6 group, which owns several television channels (M6, W9, 6ter, Teva, Gulli, etc.) and radio stations (RTL, RTL2, Fun Radio). At the start of 2021, Bertelsmann wished to withdraw from the French market and following an initial market test had made the risky choice of a merger with TF1, M6’s leading competitor in France.
This marriage, supposed to bring significant synergies, was finally canceled in the face of the reluctance of the French competition authority, which demanded drastic remedies to avoid the creation of a dominant player in the market. Several big names in the French (Vincent Bolloré via Vivendi, Xavier Niel, Daniel Kretinsky) and European media had expressed their interest at the time in taking over the group, and are likely to submit an offer again.
Other European players are mentioned in the press, in particular the Italian billionaire Silvio Berlusconi via the MediaForEurope group.
“RTL Group is in no rush to sell M6. We believe that consolidation will happen sooner or later in the French market, with different options. We are patient and can wait,” the group’s spokesperson said in his statement.
However, the timetable appears tight because after the renewal of M6’s broadcasting authorization, which expires in May 2023, the channel will no longer be able to change shareholders for 5 years.
“We will decide based on the test whether we sell or not,” the spokesperson continued. After falling since the start of the year on the Paris Stock Exchange, the M6 share has risen since the start of the week to around 13 euros, an amount close to its level at the start of 2021.