Berlusconi tightens grip on content

Hold on Medusa, Endemol increases

ROME — Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset is tightening its grip on content producers Endemol and Medusa.

Completing their Endemol acquisition, the Edam Acquisition buy-out group led by the Italo broadcaster — in partnership with John de Mol and Goldman Sachs — on Wednesday announced their expected bid for the remaining 25% of Endemol, which it had not acquired in May.

At the same time, Mediaset is absorbing sister film company Medusa, which will expand the existing integration between Italy’s top commercial TV network and the country’s leading film production and distribution company.

Previously, the two outfits had been separate units of Berlusconi’s Fininvest holding.

Edam Acquisition has launched an offer of Euros 24.55 ($33.4) a share, valuing the 25% of Endemol at Euros 767 million ($1.04 billion). It had bought 75% of Endemol from Spain’s Telefonica for Euros 2.63 billion ($ 3.6 billion). The current bid begins on July 5 and ends on August 3, it said in a statement.

Mediaset paid Euros 152 million ($207 million) for Medusa, a price based on an estimate made by Lehman Brothers, it said. The production/distribution/exhibition outfit is Italy’s top local distributor.

Both Endemol and Medusa represent ways for Mediaset to diversify away from the Italian TV market, presently plagued by an advertising downturn and possible regulatory hurdles, while shoring up its potential as an international content provider.

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