French TV station M6 was present in the auction.
RTL Group, a European broadcaster that controls just under 50% of M6, has confirmed that it is making an interesting offer for the French commercial channel following a merger plan between M6 and competitor TF1 disrupted amid antitrust concerns.
Thomas Rabe, CEO of RTL mother Bertelsmann, told Financial Times that he was “testing the market” to sell the M6 after “flooding in expressions of interest” when the big merger hit.
RTL and France’s Bouygues Group, which holds a 44% stake in TF1, planned to combine M6 and TF1 to create a French commercial mega-television station with the scale and economic influence to have can compete with international streamers with a lot of money, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+. But they abandoned the deal after French competition regulators said they would only approve the merger if the groups sold off one of the network’s two flagship channels: TF1 or M6.
Potential M6 buyers include Stéphane Courbit of manufacturing giant Banijay, French media group Vivendi, fast-growing production and sales company Mediawan, French shipping magnate Rodolphe Saadé and billionaire investor Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière.
Any acquisition would reshuffle the development dynamics of the entire European television industry. M6 is the third most watched television channel in France and the country’s most profitable private network.