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ProSieben Snubs Pier Silvio Berlusconi’s Spinoff Plan in Setback to MFE’s Pan-European Ambitions

German broadcaster ProSiebensat.1 has rejected a proposal by top Italian commercial broadcaster Mediaset — which has been rebranded as MediaForEurope (MFE) — to split up the company in what amounts to a substantial setback to MFE’s ambitions to build a pan-European broadcaster.

MFE, which is headed by Pier Silvio Berlusconi — who is the son of the late former Italian Prime Minister and TV tycoon Silvio Berlusconi — owns a a nearly 30% stake in ProSieben, which makes them the company’s top investor but does not give them control. He is pushing to spin off ProSieben’s e-commerce and dating assets from the company’s core TV operations so that MFE can mount a potential ProSiebensat.1 buyout and become a full-fledged pan-European media group.

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Pier Silvio Berlusconi, in an interview with Italian daily Corriere della Sera last week, made it clear that MFE’s buyout offer for ProSieben could only be possible once it spins off its e-commerce and dating businesses.

Prosieben in a statement on Wednesday called on shareholders to vote down MFE’s proposed spin-off plan at the annual general meeting next month.

“In the opinion of the executive board and the supervisory board, a split-up … lies in the unique interest of MFE, but not in the best interests of all other shareholders,” the ProSieben statement said.

ProSieben’s annual general meeting is scheduled for April 30. The proposed spinoff needs a 75% majority to pass. To reach that majority, MFE would need the support of Czech investment group PPF, which holds a 9.1% stake in ProSiebensat.1 and is the German giant’s second-largest investor.

MFE was formed in 2021 when Mediaset moved its legal headquarters to the Netherlands, changed its shareholding structure, and rebranded as MediaForEurope.

The company, which generates most of its revenue out of Italy, in 2023 merged its Spanish subsidiary Mediaset Espana into MFE in a move touted as the first step in its stated plan to gain scale in Europe.

Prosieben, which is Europe’s second-largest TV group in terms of TV home penetration, operates free-to-air and pay-TV channels in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

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