France’s M6 Put Up For Sale, Circled by French Shipping Tycoon Rodolphe Saade, Among Others

German media group Bertelsmann has put its TV group M6, France’s second-biggest commercial broadcaster, back on the market following its abandoned merger with TF1.

Bertelsmann’s chief executive Thomas Rabe told the Financial Times that he has asked to receive non-binding offers by Friday to “test the market” after being “inundated with expressions of interest.”

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Bertelsmann’s RTL Group owns a 48.3% stake in M6

Among those expected to bid are a consortium of high-profile French entrepreneurs including Rodolphe Saadé, the French shipping billionaire; Stéphane Courbit, chairman of TV powerhouse Banijay; and Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, chairman of the investment vehicle Fimalac, Variety has confirmed.

The Financial Times reports that some other players that bid during the last auction and lost — including Xavier Niel, the telecom billionaire and co-founder of Mediawan, and Silvio Berlusconi’s conglomerate MediaForEurope — are believed to be considering renewed bids.

M6 saw its share drop by more than 5% following the collapse of its merger with TF1 last week. The group now has a market value of about €1.6 billion ($1.58 billion).

M6 Group and TF1, which is owned by Bouygues, abandoned their merger plans to form a $4 billion European media powerhouse after a review by France’s anti-trust board.

A number of competition concerns had been raised by the anti-trust board, especially regarding the advertising market. When announcing that the merger was called off, the two companies jointly stated that their plans “no longer (had) any strategic rationale” because it appears that “only structural remedies involving at the very least the divestment of the TF1 TV channel or of the M6 TV channel” would have allowed for the merger to be green-lighted.

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