Telefonica reached agreement to buy an 11.1 per cent stake in the pay-TV unit of Italy’s Mediaset for €100 million, hot on the heels of an earlier media deal in its home market with the same partner.
In Italy, the Spanish operator said it will buy its minority stake in Mediaset Premium in the coming months.
That deal follows Telefonica’s agreement to purchase Mediaset’s 22 per cent stake in Spanish pay-TV player Distribuidora de Television (DTS) for €295 million.
The operator is now the complete owner of DTS, having agreed in early June to up its stake to 78 per cent with an agreement to buy a 56 per cent stake from Prisa for €750 million.
Telefonica wants exclusive access to content such as DTS’ so it can customise the quadplay packages it offers in competition with rivals such as Vodafone, which last week received EC approval for the purchase of cable TV operator Ono.
In Italy, the strategy is less clear. Mediaset’s own statement noted: “This partnership marks an important alliance between Mediaset and Telefonica for future cooperation in their respective pay TV activities in terms of technology, know-how and content.”
The Italian company is spinning off its pay-TV activities into a separate company with an equity value of €900 million.
Its aim is to bring in a series of international shareholders to develop content production and distribution activities.
A number of names have been circulated as possible investors. According to Reuters, deputy chairman Pier Silvio Berlusconi said last week Mediaset was in talks with Qatari-owned TV broadcaster Al Jazeera.
Another report in Corriere della Sera quoted Berlusconi as saying talks were ongoing with French group Vivendi. Access to English-speaking markets was another objective Berlusconi said, as was Spanish ones. Telefonica has enabled Mediaset to reach that particular objective.