European giant Bertelsmann has put M6 up for sale following the collapse of the French broadcaster’s merger with TF1.
Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Rabe confirmed to the Financial Times he has asked for non-binding offers for the company after saying he had been “inundated with expressions of interest” after last week’s mega merger news.
“This is why we are ‘testing the market’. We will decide on the basis of the test whether to sell or not,” he told the Financial Times. Bertelsmann’s RTL Group owns a near-50% stake in M6.
According to the paper, a consortium of prominent French entrepreneurs are mulling bids including Banijay’s Stéphane Courbit, maritime transport tycoon Rodolphe Saadé and investor Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière. Others connected with the buy were Vivendi, Mediawan and MediaForEurope.
The news comes off the back of last week’s shock announcement that the much-publicized merger has been abandoned.
In a joint statement, RTL and TF1 owner Bouygues said the merger had “no strategic rationale” following an intervention by France’s Competition Authority, which raised serious concerns mainly over the impact on the local advertising market.
The pair went on to criticize the competition authority for “failing to take into account the speed and extend of the changes sweeping through the French broadcasting sector,” with RTL recently saying the merger was necessary to keep competing with the likes of Netflix, Amazon and Disney+.
Many would likely have been pleased with the outcome, however, including broadcasting and production rivals who had feared for cannibalization with the merged group taking such a share of the overall French TV advertising market.