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Merger of French broadcasters TF1, M6 abandoned following antitrust probe

French businesses TF1 Group and M6 Group have officially abandoned their plans to merge following the French Competition Authority’s probe of the deal.

Nicolas de Tavernost

The companies said the decision was taken after it became apparent the antitrust watchdog would only approve the deal on the condition that either the TF1 TV channel or the M6 channel were sold.

“The parties have therefore concluded that the proposed merger no longer has any strategic rationale,” read a joint statement from TF1 Group and its 44% owner Bouygues Group as well as M6 Group and its Luxembourg-based parent RTL Group.

Should the merger have gone ahead, Paris-based Bouygues Group would have held a 30% stake in the combined company, with Fremantle owner RTL Group involved as a strategic shareholder with a 16% stake.

The statement added: “The parties regret that the Competition Authority did not take into account the speed and extent of the changes sweeping through the French broadcasting sector.

Gilles Pélisson

“[The parties] continue to firmly believe that a merger of the TF1 and M6 groups would have provided an appropriate response to the challenges resulting from the increased competition from the international platforms.”

The proposed deal, first announced in May, was expected to create a new French media giant that the companies said would allow them to better compete with US-based streaming platforms operating in France.

The deal was also approved by the companies’ employee representative bodies, but the competition watchdog raised concerns in July.

The parties went before the French Competition Authority’s board on September 5 and 6 to argue in favour of the deal but said they didn’t intend to make any changes despite the body’s concerns, and have now decided to abandon it.

Nicolas de Tavernost, CEO of M6 Group, had been proposed as chairman and CEO of the merged entity, with Gilles Pélisson, chairman and CEO of TF1 Group, as deputy CEO of Bouygues Group, in charge of media and development.


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