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Mediaset increases interest in ProSiebenSat.1

Italy-based commercial broadcaster Mediaset has raised its interest in German counterpart ProSiebenSat.1 through the acquisition of a 5.5-per-cent stake.

The purchase was made through Mediaset’s Spanish arm, Mediaset España Comunicación, and can be valued at €170m ($187.4m) at yesterday’s (Monday’s) market prices.

Together with a stake already held by Mediaset Group, Mediaset has now secured a total of 15.1 per cent of the share capital, making it ProSieben’s largest investor.

Mediaset said its acquisition of an additional stake in an industry leader in Germany, Europe’s largest media market, continues its strategy to build a pan-European portfolio with access to major markets. In June, Mediaset announced the creation of MediaForEurope (MFE), owning stakes in leading European media groups.

Mediaset said in a statement: “Mediaset firmly believes in the future of the European media industry. The transaction marks another important step in creating an independent European TV, content and digital powerhouse, thereby improving Europe’s competitive position in the global marketplace. Scale is becoming a crucial strategic factor. Mediaset is convinced that there has to be a pan-European answer to increasing competition and technological challenges ahead.”

The MFE vision, which incorporates a merger of Mediaset’s Italian and Spanish business into a Dutch holding company, has been challenged by French media group Vivendi, Mediaset’s second-largest shareholder. However, the two groups have recently engaged in negotiations to overcome their differences.

The Reuters news agency said Mediaset increasing its stake in ProSiebebenSat.1 could be with a view towards exploring a possible merger. However, while the Germany-based broadcaster welcomed the investment as affirmation of its strategic plan, it added it remains fully focused on building more local content and expanding its digital reach.

Mediaset made its initial acquisition of a 9.6-per-cent stake earlier this year.

At the time Pier Silvio Berlusconi the chief executive of Mediaset, said: “The friendly acquisition of a stake in ProSiebenSat.1 is a long-term choice, aimed at creating value with an increasingly international outlook. It strengthens our existing industrial relationship…

“…the rapid process of globalisation that is determining the international scenario is such that European media companies like us need to join forces if we are to continue to compete, or even just resist, in terms of our European cultural identity, eventual attacks by the global giants.”