RTL-owned commercial broadcaster M6 Group and animation producer Xilam are in the running to acquire Lagardère-owned free-to-air French kids channel Gulli and the group’s pay TV services, according to financial daily Les Echos.
According to the paper, M6 and Xilam, producer of shows including Dalton and Oggy et les Cafards (Oggy and the Cockroaches), are competing to acquire Lagardère’s TV channels unit, which includes Canal J, Tiji and MCM along with Gulli. Lagardère is engaged in a separate sale process for classical music channel Mezzo.
According to Les Echos, only M6 and Xilam have made serious offers from a field of potential suitors that also included TF1 and Altice, with Lagardère expected to take a final decision on which company to open exclusive negotiations with by the end of the month.
Gulli, with a 16.4% audience share of 4-14 year-olds, is seen as the jewel in crown of the Lagardère TV channels, and Les Echos says that its attractions have been enhanced by the ending of advertising aimed at kids on public broadcaster France Télévisions’ services and the planned closure of France 4. Gulli is the only free-to-air DTT channel outside the main national channels that is profitable.
For Xilam, acquiring Lagardère’s TV assets, valued at an estimated €200 million would be a major operation for a group whose market capitalisation is only about €220 million. Xilam last year raised €22.3 million through a private placement to help finance acquisitions.
Lagardère chief Arnaud Lagardère unveiled plans to sell off the bulk of the company’s media assets last year.