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Mediaset CFO says no talks for now on idea to create pan-Europe player

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MILAN (Reuters) – Mediaset’s <MS.MI> idea of creating a pan-European TV player is real and could happen sooner than expected, though there are no talks under way at present, the Italian broadcaster’s CFO said on Thursday.

Speaking at a presentation of programming plans, Marco Giordani said none of Europe’s generalist TV operators was in a position to buy the other but added a way had to be found to scale up operations to improve businesses.

“We have the good fortune of being a leader in two countries, but there is nothing operative and nothing will happen in the next few weeks,” he said.

Mediaset owns 52 percent of Spain’s Mediaset Espana <TL5.MC>. On Monday it said it had no plans to buy out the rest.

“There’s no deadline but we need a lot of luck and I can’t say if it will be this year,” Giordani said.

On Wednesday Mediaset CEO Pier Silvio Berlusconi said the group was working on a large merger or acquisition in Europe’s TV sector.

The CEO said in June Mediaset was looking to create a pan-European broadcaster to fend off competition from traditional rivals and online content providers like Netflix <NFLX.O>.

Earlier on Thursday the head of German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 Media <PSMGn.DE> told Reuters the group was not discussing a cross-border European merger but was instead focusing on developing its own business.

A spokeswoman for France’s largest private TV broadcaster, TF1 <TFFP.PA>, also said the company was not discussing a major European cross-border deal with Italy’s biggest private broadcaster.

Mediaset, controlled by the family of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, tried to broaden its business in 2016 with a pay-TV agreement with French media giant Vivendi <VIV.PA> aimed at building a southern European media powerhouse.

But that deal fell through when Vivendi, which owns 28.8 percent of the Italian group, backtracked, leading to a court battle.

Giordani said on Thursday he believed a solution could be found to the dispute between the two companies.

(Reporting by Giancarlo Navach, writing by Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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