With no surprises, Mediaset España’s shareholders have given the green light to the merger by absorption by its Italian parent company MFE with a “sufficient majority” for the creation of a pan-European television project. The extraordinary shareholders’ meeting held this morning also approved a prior spin-off of almost all of its assets to its wholly owned subsidiary, Grupo Audiovisual Mediaset España Comunicación, in order to preserve the business and business organisation in Spain.
Mediaset España’s chairman, Borja Prado, defended the merger as “the safest way for the survival of the company”, which aims to position itself on a par with today’s global operators. With this formula, he hopes to “find new business opportunities” to which US content producers and pay-TV channels already have access, “which are benefiting from its pan-European reach”. “The only exceptions in the media sector have been the free-to-air TV operators who have traditionally been active in national markets,” Prado said.
Prado also thanked his predecessor, Alejandro Echevarría, and the former CEO, Paolo Vasile -present at the meeting- whom he described as “the inspirer and promoter of a plural, innovative and provocative independent television model that has placed the company at the forefront of audiences and advertising revenue for many years”.
One shareholder, José Antonio del Barrio Colmenarejo, spoke at the meeting, complaining that they are acting “as Berlusconi’s sidekick” and that minority shareholders have not been taken into consideration in this process. “As a minority shareholder I feel cheated, frustrated and disenchanted with you. You have not been up to the task of defending us from the Italians,” he lamented. He criticised the fact that in 2017 the share cost 10 euros, and that, since then, it has been undervalued by 61%.
Prado replied that “we have all suffered that loss for several years, but I would say that it has been due to market circumstances in any case”.
The merger process, which is expected to be completed within a month, has been advised by Deutsche Bank and Santander, the consultancy firm Grant Thornton and the legal firm Garrigues.