the sale of M6 abandoned, does the channel have a future?

the sale of M6 abandoned, does the channel have a future?

Why is M6 no longer for sale?

At the beginning of 2021, the German media giant Bertelsmann, present in the audiovisual sector via the RTL group, publishing (Penguin Random House) and music (BMG), formalizes its intention to sell its majority stake in the M6 ​​group, owner in France television channels (M6, W9, 6ter, Paris Première, Gulli) and the RTL radio group.

Bertelsmann first chose to marry M6 to its main private rival, TF1, owned by the Bouygues group. A risky choice in the face of competition regulations, but which should allow him to pocket 641 million euros while retaining 11% of the new entity.

Eighteen months later, the group recognizes that it has not succeeded in convincing the anti-trust authorities and prefers to abandon its project. New offers are made hastily, but the price offered per M6 share is lower and it is too late. The authorities threaten not to be able to endorse the operation before the renewal for ten years of the authorization of diffusion of M6, which expires in May. After this date, French law prohibits any change of control of the channel for five years. Without legislative change, Bertelsmann will therefore have to keep the chain until 2028.

How can the chain bounce?

A sign of the end of speculation, the title of the M6 ​​group plunged Tuesday by around 10% on the Paris Stock Exchange at the start of the afternoon, in a bullish market (+ 3.4%). According to a note from OddoBHF analysts, the strategic options “are few since the group can neither merge with TF1 nor consider an international merger”.

There remains the possibility of initially making “small targeted acquisitions” in the production of content, the purchase of rights or distribution platforms.

Then, in a second step, try again to consolidate the market with a smaller competitor, such as NRJ Group (which publishes the channels NRJ12, Chérie25 and the stations NRJ, Chérie RM, Rire & Chansons, Nostalgie), imagine the bank of ‘business. According to the boss of the M6 ​​group Nicolas de Tavernost, “nothing prevents (Bertelsmann) from bringing in (minority) partners who [l’] would help in [son] development “. In an interview with Le Figaro on Monday, he notably suggests strengthening content and developing video streaming activities around its technological subsidiary Bedrock.

Is French television really doomed?

M6 is the most profitable television group in Europe and its margins could still “grow slightly over the next three years”, estimates OddoBHF.

Despite the erosion and aging of small-screen audiences, it remains for the moment “very largely the leader and has the ability to maintain or even increase its prices”, explains the analyst. If, in the longer term, the market were to really struggle against streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon or Disney, nothing will prevent us from trying to consolidate again.

In France, the debate promises to be intense concerning the adaptation of the audiovisual law. French regulations “have shown that they are not adapted to the evolution of our sector”, declared Nicolas de Tavernost.

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