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BeIN and Telefonica linked to Canal Plus partnership

Telefonica is in talks with pay-television broadcaster beIN Media Group for the Spanish telecommunications company to sell a significant stake in Spanish pay-television operator Canal Plus, according to multiple media reports in the country.

In July, Telefonica secured a 100-per-cent shareholding in Canal Plus through its acquisition of Mediaset Espana’s 22-per-cent stake for a purchase price of €295m ($312.1m). Telefonica had already agreed a deal to acquire a 56-per-cent stake in Canal Plus from media company Prisa for €750m, raising its interest to 78 per cent.

However, Spain’s competition regulator, the Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y La Competencia (CNMC), is yet to approve the deal amid reports that it is likely to impose strict conditions on the transaction owing to concerns over the level of control Telefonica would gain in the Spanish pay-television market. The European Commission has also spoken of its worries over the proposed deal granting Telefonica control of 80 per cent of the market.

Telefonica chairman Cesar Alierta, speaking recently when presenting the telco’s 2014 financial results, said that he expected the transaction to be approved in the coming months. However, Telefonica has been linked to exploring alleviating competition concerns by selling a stake in Canal Plus to beIN Media Group.

Such a move would grant Telefonica a powerful ally when the Spanish Liga, the top division of football in the country, switches to a collective rights model. Telefonica chief executive José María Álvarez Pallete in February said the telco would bid for the collective rights to the Liga when the new model is introduced.