Spanish broadcaster Antena 3′s takeover of smaller national channel LaSexta is finally set to go ahead after the former’s board gave its approval.
Grupo Planeta-backed Antena 3 Group and Mediapro’s LaSexta will begin operating as a singe company on October 1.
The deal is worth up to €100m (US$128m) to LaSexta, with Antena taking about 85% of the equity and LaSexta 7% (potentially rising to 14%), according to the original agreement struck last December.
This comes after the Spanish government stepped in to soften tough conditions placed on the merger by competition regulator Comision Naciónal de la Competencia.
From October, the enlarged group will comprise eights channels (Antena 3, LaSexta, Neox, Nova, Nitro, Xplora, LaSexta 3, Todo Cine TV and pay-TV channel Gol TV) and goes head-to-head with Mediaset’s Telecinco-Cuatro Group, which merged two years ago.
For LaSexta particularly, the merger was critical. Spain’s fragile and fragmenting TV advertising market, the global economic crash of 2009 and the Telecino-Cuatro merger all added to its rapidly rising debt.
Spain’s commercial broadcast market is now effectively a duopoly between the two merged pairs. This had been one of the key stumbling blocks for the CNC, which had raised concerns the pair could “tacitly co-oridinate” their efforts to control the TV advertising market.
It was at this point deputy prime minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria stepped in and allowed the deal to go ahead with “conditions” aimed at maintaining media pluralism. No details were given but she claimed these were in “symmetry” with the local market, alluding to conditions placed on the Telecinco-Cuatro merger.
LaSexta launched in 2005 as one of two new national TV channels, the other being Cuatro. Its backers include Spanish-langauge content giant Imagina Media Ausiovisual and Gestora de Inversiones Audiovisuales. Antena 3 is among Spain’s largest broadcasters and counts Grupo Planeta and RTL among its shareholders.