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De Agostini may bid for Endemol

Italian publisher owns majority stake in Antena 3

ROME — Italian publisher De Agostini may attempt to outbid Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset for control of “Big Brother” creator Endemol.

De Agostini, a majority shareholder in Spanish web Antena 3, has hired Citigroup to explore the possibility of bidding on the 75% stake in Endemol that Spain’s Telefonica is set to put on the block, Il Sole24 Ore reported on Tuesday. De Agostini later denied the report.

Still, some media observers regard De Agostini as a viable bidder as it recently has been stepping up its investment in the TV market, culminating in last month’s purchase of a controlling stake in Magnolia, the production company that brings “Celebrity Survivor” to Italians.

Mediaset has made it known that it will bid on the reality TV production company if the price is right. Last week, Mediaset deputy chairman Piersilvio Berlusconi said in an interview with Corriere della Sera that Endemol “would be an industrial fit” for the Italian broadcaster, which has been attracting consistently strong ratings over the years for “Grande Fratello,” its local version of “Big Brother.”

Mediaset is believed to have hired Mediobanca to prepare for a bid of its own. Mediaset has consistently said it will not make known its intentions until Telefonica formally puts its Endemol stake up for sale.

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