Mediaset Quietly Raises Stake in Germany’s ProSieben to 24%, Just Below Anti-Trust Threshold

Top Italian private broadcaster Mediaset has quietly raised its stake in German broadcasting giant ProSiebenSat.1, in which the Berlusconi-owned company now holds an overall 24% share, just below the 25% threshold beyond which it would need authorization from German regulators to exceed.

Mediaset’s Mediaset Espana subsidiary on Thursday evening said it had acquired a 3.43% share in ProSieben for which it paid €104 million euros ($126 million), raising its own ProSieben stake to more than 13%, while its Milan-based Mediaset holding company holds 11% in the German group.

ProSieben, which is Europe’s second-largest TV group in terms of TV home penetration, operates free-to-air and pay-TV channels in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and controls production group Red Arrow Studios.

On Friday, it announced revenues of €4.04 billion ($4.91 billion) and adjusted earnings of €700 million ($850.9 million) for the full year, according to preliminary figures.

The company has been recalibrating its strategy and focusing on its core TV business, reportedly under pressure from the Berlusconi camp, which with a 24% stake has now gained more sway.

Mediaset, which is run by chief executive Pier Silvio Berlusconi, son of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, has been building a stake in ProSieben as part of an attempt to gain scale in Europe. The company previously tried and failed to create a pan-European giant by joining forces with France’s Vivendi in an alliance that went sour, prompting an unsuccessful hostile takeover attempt by Vivendi.

Mediaset operates in Italy and in Spain via Mediaset Espana. The business is the private free-TV market leader in both countries.

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