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Mediaset prepares Endemol bid

$2.7 billion package put in place

Mediaset, Goldman Sachs and Endemol co-founder John De Mol are close to finalizing a E2 billion ($2.7 billion) financing package to buy TV production company Endemol, which Telefonica put up for bid last month.

The Silvio Berlusconi-controlled Mediaset declined to comment Wednesday on the report published by Il Sole 24’s news agency, Radiocor. It stuck to a statement made last month that it would not comment on any part of the Endemol bid until Telefonica concluded the sale, expected some time next month.

The Mediaset-De Mol-Goldman Sachs trio repeatedly have been cited in the press as a front-runner along with Mexican broadcaster Televisa; Thomas H. Lee Partners; Apax Partners with Endemol chief operating officer Tom Barnicoat; and France’s PAI Partners.

Telefonica is expected to net $4.1 billionfor the “Big Brother” creator.

Mediaset’s top brass have repeatedly said Endemol would make a good fit as its reality TV programs continue to play well overseas, giving Mediaset a foothold in non-Italian markets.

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De Mol and Joop van den Ende, who founded Endemol, sold it to Telefonica in 2000 for $7.6 billion.

De Mol’s Talpa Media also is close to signing a deal to roll the content of its ailing free-to-air net Tien into the channels of Dutch commercial broadcaster RTL, Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad reported Wednesday.

De Mol spokesman Thomas Notermans downplayed the media rumors, however, saying Talpa is continuing to talk to a number of potential partners about the future of its fledgling channel Tien.

According to the Algemeen Dagblad report out of Mip TV, Dutch Premier League soccer highlights, shown on Tien, would move to RTL4 next season under the accord.

(Melanie Goodfellow in London contributed to this report.)

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