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Mediaset raises ProSiebenSat.1 stake further

Mediaset, the Italy-based commercial broadcaster, has furthered its efforts to create a pan-European media group by raising its stake in Germany-based commercial broadcasting group ProSiebenSat.1.

Mediaset has secured an additional stake of up to 4.1 per cent of the share capital of ProSiebenSat.1, meaning it now has up to 24.9 per cent of the voting shares of the company. The additional stake means its interest in ProSiebenSat.1 has risen from 20.1 per cent to 24.2 per cent.

Earlier this month, Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, the Bundeskartellamt, approved Mediaset’s request to raise its stake in ProSiebenSat.1 up to 25 per cent, a threshold enabling it to vote at the latter’s annual general meeting scheduled for June.

Mediaset has been increasing its stake in ProSiebenSat.1 to further its wider European growth strategy. Mediaset is seeking to build a pan-European portfolio with access to major markets. In June 2019, Mediaset announced the creation of MediaForEurope (MFE), owning stakes in leading European media groups.

The MFE vision incorporates a merger of Mediaset’s Italian and Spanish business into a Dutch holding company.

The ProSiebenSat.1 suite of channels include the flagship Sat.1 channel in Germany, along with ProSieben, ProSieben Maxx and Kabel Eins. In Austria, the group also owns and operates Puls 4, which holds Uefa Europa League rights (from 2018-19 to 2020-21). Sports broadcast rights held by ProSiebenSat.1 include American football’s NFL, ESL esports events and WWE wrestling.

Mediaset last month secured a further 4.25-per-cent shareholding via its Spanish arm, Mediaset España in a deal valued at €61m ($66.1m).

ProSiebenSat.1 last month announced the departure of chief executive Max Conze with immediate effect, while chief financial officer Rainer Beaujean assumed the role of chairman of the executive board.

Conze’s departure came amid reports that he was not supportive of ProSiebenSat.1’s increasingly close relationship with Mediaset. At the end of last year, Conze publicly expressed his scepticism about a merger of Mediaset and ProSiebenSat.1.

Elsewhere, ProSiebenSat.1’s video-on-demand platform, Maxdome, will remain operational longer than originally planned, with summer 2020 now confirmed as its shutdown date.

Maxdome was originally intended to be discontinued in the first quarter of the year. However, this target has been put back and it will now be folded into streaming platform Joyn later this year. Joyn is operated by ProSiebenSat.1 and US-based media group Discovery, with maxdome set to be incorporated into the new Joyn Plus + service which launched in November.

In the past, Maxdome has streamed boxing bouts and mixed martial arts’ Ultimate Fighting Championship.