June 5, 2020 / 11:11 AM / a month ago

Mediaset presses ProSieben to commit to growth: Der Spiegel

FILE PHOTO: The Mediaset tower is seen at the headquarter in Cologno Monzese, near Milan, Italy, April 8, 2016. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/File Photo

(Reuters) - Mediaset (MS.MI), the largest shareholder in ProSiebensat.1 Media (PSMGn.DE), urged the German broadcaster on Friday to commit to growing its core media business at next week’s annual general meeting.

The Italian broadcaster has amassed a stake of nearly a quarter in ProSieben as it seeks to bring about broader European consolidation and fight off streaming giants Netflix (NFLX.O) and Amazon (AMZN.O).

That created enough pressure to force out ProSieben CEO Max Conze in March, after his attempt to pivot to digital commerce and entertainment flopped. New CEO Rainer Beaujean has pledged to refocus on ProSieben’s roots in commercial television.

“ProSieben management must now present a growth strategy - at the moment I don’t see one... Everything I have seen so far will only cause the business to shrink,” Mediaset’s Chief Financial Officer Marco Giordani told Germany’s Spiegel weekly.

Mediaset, controlled by the family of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, had no intention of going hostile, Giordani also said, adding that consolidation in Europe made no sense without Germany.

“We are simply too small - the battle against Amazon and Netflix is hopeless,” Giordani said.

Mediaset this week increased its direct stake in ProSieben Media to 11.7% from 8.9%. Including shares controlled indirectly through financial instruments, its stake is 24.2%.

ProSieben holds its AGM on June 10. Giordani said Mediaset would not push for board representation at ProSieben until a seat comes free, and would not approach management until plans to merge its own Italian and Spanish operations go through.

Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Michelle Martin and Ed Osmond

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