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Mediaset creates new holding company, merges Spanish, Italian operations

Mediaset is merging its Spanish and Italian business into a holding company based in Amsterdam.

The creation of MediaForEurope (MFE) is the confirmation of the company’s intention to create a pan-European television hub. This is a move that had been widely-speculated since Mediaset recently acquired a 9.6% stake in ProSiebenSat1.

While the company will be headquartered in the Netherlands, the company says that this is purely for regulatory reasons and that it will fiscally be based in Italy.

Mediaset has also confirmed that it has taken full ownership of Mediaset Espana, of which it previously only held 52%. As reported by Finanza Online, each Mediaset Espana shareholder will receive 2.33 MFE shares for each share held. An extraordinary shareholders’ meeting to confirm the merger is scheduled for September 4.

MFE will still pay taxes in Italy and Spain, and production jobs will also remain in their respective countries of origin.

There has been a recent spate of consolidation in the European market, as traditional broadcasters look to catch up with the online dominance of OTT services like Netflix. Mediaset had attempted to join forces with Vivendi, shortly before the latter tried a hostile takeover of Mediaset – both of which failed. Vivendi now owns a 10% stake in Mediaset. The company also holds an additional 13.3% stake, which is held in a trust called Simon Fiduciaria following a ruling from the AGCOM that found it to be in violation of Italian antitrust regulations.

MFE is still largely dominated by the Berlusconi family, which, through holding company Fininvest, owns 44% stake in Mediaset.

Mediaset chief executive Pier Silvio Berlusconi said that Mediaset is “ready” for international expansion: “We first talked about our international project about a year ago and since then we have been working constantly and are now ready. We have identified a new operational model that will generate efficiencies and development… the creation of an editorial group of adequate scale to reach a European audience is a crucial factor for the future.”

Berlusconi also hinted at the company’s plans for the future, hinting that the company could expand into “a third or fourth country”, and that MFE needs “to develop a platform at the level of those of the global operators and all of the technology required for the advertising of the future”.

Berlusconi concluded: “We firmly believe that after this initial step also other countries will join us in the new home of European television. This is why I feel that I can say that today, with MFE, from an example of Italian excellence, a European challenge begins.”