Move viewed as politcal, not commercial

MADRID — In its latest acquisition, Spain’s Telefonica Media looks set to take a 25% stake in Barcelona-based Media Park, Spain’s largest thematic channel packager.

Telefonica Media’s parent Telefonica apparently greenlit the investment at a May 30 board meeting.

The stake, which will cost some Pta10.5 billion ($58.3 million), will be taken through a share capital increase that will position TM as one of the two lead shareholders in Media Park with a total 28%.

Following the capital increase, TM will own some 3% of Media Park through the TM-controlled commercial broadcaster Antena 3. Group Equip, an alliance of Barcelona-based producers, will own a further 28%.

Political move

TM’s entry into Media Park is widely regarded as a political rather than commercial move. Media Park supplies a roster of channels to satcaster Via Digital and DTT operator Quiero TV. But it has used aggressive deficit financing to build up its rights catalog. TM will now have to assume some of that Media Park debt.

Telefonica will, however, garner valuable credit with the president of Catalonia, Jordi Pujol, by buying into one of the most important TV companies in the Catalan capital, Barcelona.

Telefonica prexy Juan Villalonga needs the support of his second largest shareholder, Catalan savings bank, La Caixa, as he conducts a running battle with Telefonica’s biggest core shareholder, Spanish bank BBVA and the Spanish government, to push through an aggressive expansion plan at Telefonica.

(Emiliano de Pablos contributed to this report.)

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