Bouygues, the parent company of TF1 Group, France’s leading commercial network, is on track to buy a 30% stake in M6 Groupe from Berteslmann, Variety has confirmed. TF1 is expected to unveil the advanced negotiations on Tuesday (May 18).
Bertelsmann would retain 16% of the capital in M6 Groupe, while Nicolas de Tavernost, the long-time president of M6 Groupe’s directory, would remain at the company as chairman, according to the French newspaper.
Bouygues and M6 Groupe are being advised by Rothschild and JP Morgan, respectively. M6 Groupe is part of RTL Group, which is a subsidiary of Bertelsmann, and comprises seven TV channels and three RTL radio stations.
M6 Groupe ranks as the country’s second biggest commercial network, so an alliance between the two groups would mark an unprecedented consolidation within France’s TV landscape. The rationale behind the deal is to set up a European powerhouse that could have the scale and scope to compete with deep-pocketed global players like Netflix, Apple, Amazon, Disney and, soon, the merged WarnerMedia and Discovery entity.
The deal would still be subject to approval by anti-trust authorities, which will likely be a lengthy process. The combined group would largely dominate the advertising market in France. Le Figaro estimates that the entity would represent 70% of the ad market for the French TV business.
TF1 also owns Newen, an international film and TV production and distribution group comprising TF1 Studios, and production banners such as Telfrance, Capa, 17 juin média and Blue Spirit in France; Tuvalu and Pupkin in the Netherlands; Nimbus in Denmark; De Mensen in Belgium; and Reel One in Canada. Newen also launched in 2020 the production company Ringside Studios, in collaboration with “The Fall” producer Gub Neal and DoveTale Media.
Both TF1 and M6 took a hit in 2020 due to the pandemic. TF1 saw its consolidated revenues drop to €2 billion ($2.4 billion), an 11% year-on-year drop, while M6 posted a 12.5% year-old drop in consolidated revenue, at €1.2 billion ($1.5 billion).
The news was first reported by Le Figaro.
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