EU OKs Spanish takeover

Simpler antitrust procedure helps merger go through

BRUSSELS — European regulators have greenlit the $103.4 million takeover of Spanish commercial broadcaster Telecinco by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s TV group Mediaset.

Mediaset has upped its stake from 40% to 52%, and it is also buying the ad firm Publiespana from Spain’s Grupo Correo Prensa Espanola.

Last week Mediaset announced 2002 net profits of $394 million off $2.52 billion in net revenues. Ad revs were $2.65 billion, an increase of $9.25 million (or 0.4%) from 2001, and its overall share of Italian TV viewers was 44.1%, up one point on the figure for the previous year.

Company is something of a rarity in that its ad revenues have risen for the past two years even as a slump has gripped the ad industry worldwide.

Telecinco, meanwhile, has posted 2002 net profits of $93.8 million off $677 million of revenues, with ad revs of $626.6 million.

Deal, set in place Dec. 18, was approved under the EU’s simplified antitrust procedure, which waves through mergers after a month if there are no objections.

(Sheri Jennings in Rome contributed to this report.)

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