You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Canal Plus, NetHold link creates Euro pay TV giant

PARIS – French paybox Canal Plus and the main backers of the Dutch-based pay TV group NetHold have formally agreed on plans to merge the two companies.

NetHold’s joint shareholders, the Swiss-based Richemont group and South African pay TV company MIH, signed off on the deal with Canal Plus on Tuesday. The powerhouse merger, which will see the creation of Europe’s largest pay TV operation, was first announced in September.

Under the terms of the deal, Canal Plus will take control of NetHold’s pay operations in Scandinavia, Benelux, Italy and Central Europe. NetHold’s pay TV channels in Africa, the Middle East, Greece and Cyprus go to MIH. In addition, Richemont and MIH get a 20% stake in Canal Plus. The Gallic paybox also paid NetHold’s owners $45 million.

While Canal Plus, Richemont and MIH have now agreed on the deal, the authorities in each of the countries where NetHold is present have yet to give their blessing to the merger. A Canal Plus statement this week said that the necessary greenlights are expected by March or April.

When the merger is finally authorized it will create a pay group with just over 8.5 million subscribers, under the control of Canal Plus. Apart from giving the French group a foothold in Scandinavia, the deal also opens up the Italian market for the Gallic giant.

NetHold has a 45% stake in Italian pay TV digital operator Telepiu, alongside the German Kirch Group and Silvio Berlusconi. Canal Plus execs are hoping they can strike a deal with Kirch that would give Canal Plus the majority of Telepiu in return for scaling down Canal Plus’ 37.5% stake in German pay channel Premiere.

In the short term, media analysts expect the merger to have a negative effect on Canal Plus’ results. The paybox turned a $133 million profit in 1995, but a NetHold statement in September said the company is not expected to hit operating breakeven until around 1999.

Last month, Canal Plus chairman Pierre Lescure fought off an attempt by private Gallic web TF1 to block the merger in the French courts.

TF1 and Canal Plus are partners in the pan-European sports service Eurosport. TF1 claimed that by merging with NetHold, Canal Plus was infringing on an earlier agreement not to be directly or indirectly involved in a rival to Eurosport. NetHold’s interests include several thematic sports services. TF1 asked a Paris court to either block the merger or ensure that the NetHold sports channels were excluded from the deal.

The Paris court threw out the request, which has paved the way for relations between Canal Plus and TF1 to hit an all-time low.

More Scene

  • Adam Driver appears at the curtain

    Adam Driver on Starring in 'Burn This' for a Second Time

    The Hudson Theatre’s new production of “Burn This” marks its first Broadway revival since it premiered on the Great White Way in 1987, but Adam Driver is no stranger to the work. He starred as Pale in a Juilliard production of the Lanford Wilson drama when he was still a student — and only now, [...]

  • PMC Event Rome

    Film, Fashion, Formula E Mix at Rome E-Prix Bash

    Film, fashion and Formula E auto-racing fused during a dinner and celebration of the Rome E-Prix on Thursday at the Palazzo Dama by the Piazza del Popolo in the heart of the Eternal City.  Guests mingled and sipped cocktails as hors d’oeuvres were passed around in a former home of the Italian nobility with conversation [...]

  • Katy Perry, Diane von Furstenberg, Arianna

    Katy Perry and Anita Hill Honored at the DVF Awards

    Katy Perry was among the honorees at the 10th Annual DVF Awards on Thursday night. The singer was recognized for her advocacy work with both UNICEF and the LGBTQ community. “Music has opened the doors for so many opportunities for me,” she said while accepting the inspiration award. “The ability to meet people and champion [...]

  • Chrissy Metz'Breakthrough' Film Premiere, Arrivals, Regency

    Why 'This Is Us' Star Chrissy Metz Could End Up Performing at the Next Oscars

    Chrissy Metz made her live-singing debut on Sunday when she performed “I’m Standing With You” from her new movie “Breakthrough.” Was that just a step on her way to performing at the Oscars? Could be. The song was written by 10-time Oscar nominee Diane Warren. “They said Chrissy had to sing it and I was [...]

  • Bob IgerSimon Weisenthal Gala honoring Bob

    Disney's Bob Iger Blasts Hateful Political Discourse and Social Media: 'We Can Do Better'

    Bob Iger didn’t mince words while being honored Thursday by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Upon receiving the Humanitarian Award at the organization’s National Tribute Dinner from Jeffrey Katzenberg, the Walt Disney Co. chairman and CEO delivered a scathing critique of social media and the current state of political discourse. “Hate and anger are dragging us [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content