April 3, 2019 / 10:52 AM / 18 days ago

ProSiebenSat.1, Mediaset shares rise on renewed merger talk

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Germany's biggest commercial broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG is pictured in front of their headquarters in Unterfoehring, near Munich, Germany in this February 26, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle/File Photo

MILAN (Reuters) - Shares in ProSiebenSat.1 and Mediaset rose on Wednesday after the chairman of the Italian broadcaster said the company was still studying a possible cross-border deal.

Mediaset’s top executives have repeatedly raised the idea of creating a pan-European TV player to fend off competition from established rivals and online content providers such as Netflix. Germany’s ProSiebenSat 1 Media has been seen as a possible partner for Italy’s biggest commercial broadcaster which is owned by the family of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. In answer to a question on whether Mediaset could tie up with “the Germans”, Mediaset Chairman Fedele Confalonieri said a cross-border deal was still being studied.

However, he added: “It’s not just up to us.”

Traders on Wednesday said the comments had revived merger speculation, adding ProSiebenSat.1 could become a takeover candidate given its shares are trading near a seven-year low.

A ProSieben spokeswoman, asked about Mediaset’s comments, said the Munich-based broadcaster preferred to cooperate in the context of an existing European Media Alliance.

Mediaset is also a member of the partnership, set up in 2013 to identify investment opportunities in new digital businesses. It also includes Britain’s Channel 4, Sweden’s Modern Times Group and Poland’s TVN.

The German broadcaster had denied in September it was discussing a cross-border European merger and said it was instead focusing on developing its own business.

ProSieben shares were up more than 4 percent by 1030 GMT, while Mediaset gained 2.6 percent.

Reporting by Maria Pia Quaglia, Additional reporting by Joern Poltz in Munich; editing by David Evans

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