A consortium led by Banijay chairman Stéphane Courbit is leading the race to acquire French broadcaster M6, according to reports, with shares in the Bertelsmann-owned network spiking on news of several planned offers.
Bloomberg News cited an unnamed source saying Courbit and his partners, who include shipping mogul Rodolphe Saade and businessman Marc Ladreit de Lacharriere, have offered an all-cash €20 ($20) a share for owner Bertelsmann’s stake in the channel, which was set to merge with French rival TF1 Group until the agreement collapsed under the weight of regulatory scrutiny last week.
This would value the 48% stake at around €1.22BN. M6’s share price has risen from around €13.35 on Friday to well over €15 this morning in Europe, with Courbit’s offer therefore representing a significant premium.
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s MFE-MadeForEurope has reportedly teamed with French telecommunications billionaire Xavier Niel, who co-founded Mediawan, to bid for M6, while another offer from Czech businessman Daniel Kretinsky is also said to be launching an offer. Vivendi is not expected to push ahead with a bid.
The collapse of the TF1-M6 merger last week led Bertelsmann to immediately put M6 up for sale on a non-binding basis, sparking the round of interest over the weekend. Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Rabe told the Financial Times he was ‘testing the market’ after being “inundated with expressions of interest.”
Courbit’s interest emerged in the same story.
The merger collapse was damaging for the RTL and Fremantle and TF1 owner Bouygues, both of whom were searching for more firepower to defend against the growing influence of streamers such as Netflix and Prime Video in France. However, several rivals had voiced concerns a merged entity would be a hugely dominant player in the French advertising market.
Earlier this year, Courbit took Survivor and Big Brother owner Banijay public through an agreement with a SPAC investment group. Banijay now sits within FL Entertainment, a holding group that also includes online sports betting firm Betclic. M6 would likely join this group should Courbit’s consortium be successful.
Courbit’s representatives hadn’t responded to requests for comment at press time.