Mediaset seeks watchdog OK that could see it up its stake in ProSiebenSat.1

Mediaset is seeking the approval of German competition regulator the Bundeskartellamt after admitting it intends to take a “significant competitive interest” in ProSiebenSat.1.

Mediaset’s interest in the German broadcaster appears on a list of ongoing merger control proceedings published on the German competition regulator’s website.

A green light from the Bundeskartellamt would enable the Italian media outfit, which recently upped its stake in ProSiebenSat.1 to 20.1% following the acquisition of additional shares by its partially-owned Spanish unit, to further increase its stake to 25%. It would also open the way for Mediaset to vote at ProSiebenSat.1’s planned shareholder meeting in June.

Mediaset has effectively doubled its stake in German commercial broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 since last year with a fresh acquisition of shares by its Spanish unit.

The Italian media company announced two weeks ago that Mediaset España, its Spanish unit with which it plans to merge under the stalled MediaForEurope project, had acquired a further 9,902,500 shares in the German outfit, equal to a 4.25% stake in its share capital or 4.38% of voting rights excluding treasury shares. The move took the Spanish unit’s stake in ProSiebenSat.1 to 9.75%. The company acquired a 5.5% stake in ProSiebenSat.1 in November last year.

Mediaset separately owns a further 9.6% share in the German broadcaster. Mediaset said that the group has to date acquired the availability of 20.1% of voting rights, excluding treasury shares.

Mediaset has been able to take advantage of a significant fall in the price of ProSiebenSat.1 stock, which is down by 60% on a year ago.

Recently-departed ProSiebenSat.1CEO Max Conze had consistently played down or dismissed the idea of a merger between the pair, but the company’s shift in strategy since Conze’s departure, with a renewed focus on its core business, could potentially foreshadow a shift in attitude.

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