Bouygues and RTL have finalized their agreement to merge the TF1 and M6 groups, a project presented on May 17 and aimed at creating a French television giant, they said in a joint statement. The merger expected to expire at the end of 2022 was also unanimously approved on June 24 by the employee representative bodies of Bouygues, TF1 and M6. But the merger is still theoretical, because it must now obtain the consent of the Superior Audiovisual Council (CSA) and the French Competition Authority, which must in particular decide with regard to the very large market share that ‘would get the new group in the TV advertising business.
The Authority is “in the process of preparing the market test which will be carried out at the start of the school year”, its president Isabelle de Silva said Thursday, with the aim of shedding light on the consequences of the merger on the advertising markets, rights to acquire and produce audiovisual and sports programs, and to distribute content.
The marriage of the first and the third channel of the French audiovisual landscape would bring about the emergence of a giant player in television, overtaking France TV with more than 30% of audience share, and representing three quarters of the advertising market on this medium.
TF1 and M6 justify their project by the need to face international competition, in particular that of the major global Internet players. M6, which owns five TNT frequencies and radio stations including RTL, had been for sale for several months by its main shareholder, the German group Bertelsmann, via its subsidiary RTL Group.
He had received several offers at the end of March, including those from Vivendi (Canal +), Xavier Niel, or the Czech entrepreneur Daniel Kretinsky, according to press reports. It was finally Bouygues, parent company of TF1, which won with an offer of 641 million euros.
If the merger is authorized, the construction giant will take control of the future group with 30% of the shares while RTL Group will keep 16% of the capital and will act in concert with Bouygues. The emblematic boss of M6, Nicolas de Tavernost, will then be appointed CEO of the new entity and the current CEO of TF1 Gilles Pélisson will become Deputy CEO of Bouygues in charge of media.