By Elvira Pollina
COLOGNOMONZESE, Italy – MFE-MediaforEurope is ruling out a full merger with Prosiebensat.1 as well as a takeover bid at present but is confident that closer cooperation is possible, the head of MFE said.
Controlled by the family of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s top commercial broadcaster MFE has built a potential stake of up 29.9% in the Munich-based rival as part of its ambition to consolidate the European TV sector.
“As of now, honestly, we cannot talk of a merger, and would be absurd talking about a takeover bid,” MFE Chief Executive Pier Silvio Berlusconi said at a press briefing at the company’s Italian headquarters near Milan.
Earlier this week, MFE said it would complete a planned merger with its Spanish-listed subsidiary, as part of its strategy to build a European TV champion to help counter the might of U.S. streaming giants.
Prosiebensat.1 has so far shown little interest in any strategic deal with MFE, which first invested in the German TV group in 2019.
The MFECEO said Prosiebensat.1’s supervisory board chairman Andreas Wiele, who was appointed last year, had demonstrated openness to dialogue with the company’s top investor, in a change of tack.
“That makes us confident the two companies can join forces to develop some joint projects,” he said, citing the development of a digital TV advertising platform capable of competing with online giants such as Google
The chief executive, the son of the former prime minister, billed German media and politician scrutiny of MFE‘s investment as exploitation of his father’s role in Italian politics to obstruct MFE, which wants to act “in the interest of all Prosiebensat.1 investors”.
At the same event, MFE Chief Financial Officer Marco Giordani ruled out the company would present “hostile candidates” for three seats on Prosiebensat.1’s supervisory board at the German group’s shareholder meeting in May.
Giordani said there might however be room for an MFE representative on the German company’s supervisory board.
The executive said MFE is ready to restructure its stake in Prosiebensat.1, converting the portion held through derivatives once it received required antitrust authorisations.