P7S1: Beaujean rejects fusion fantasies again

The relationship between ProSiebenSat.1 and its largest shareholder, Berlusconi’s Media for Europe group, which now holds more than 25 percent of the shares, is still anything but good up until next Thursday’s annual general meeting. Although the dreaded big showdown is unlikely to happen after the Italians announced they would not have their own candidates for the board and would support the proposed Andreas Wiele as the new chairman of the board, Media for Europe linked this announcement with clear criticism of ProSiebenSat. 1, one accused an outdated and opaque corporate governance, in addition to a lack of transparency and general unwillingness to talk to the major shareholder.

In the Monday edition of the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, Rainer Beaujean, CEO of ProSiebenSat.1, now speaks up and in turn accuses Berlusconi’s people of lack of communication. Although one is “regularly in touch” with the company as with all investors – but criticism of him or the current strategy of ProSiebenSat.1 was never expressed there. One could all the more read about them in various, often Italian, media. In any case, it is no secret that Media for Europe is aiming for a merger to form a pan-European group.

Beaujean now says: “We would like to see a closer dialogue. We would like to hear from Media for Europe what their plans for a pan-European media group look like in concrete terms and what added value this would have for all our stakeholders: for viewers, customers , employees, shareholders, the public. ” Media for Europe, however, had to do a lot to persuade if it was not to become a hostile takeover, for ProSiebenSat.1 is a burned child.

Beaujean: “Many years ago, ProSiebenSat.1 tried to create a European TV group, but it failed then. You can not jointly buy content across Europe at lower prices or produce it jointly, there are no European agreements with the United States. “Studios, the individual markets are too different for that. Cost savings are also hardly possible together, I do not see any great potential for synergies.”

At the same time, he does not rule out cooperation in principle, but only sees it between two independent companies. This can happen, for example, with technical issues, investments or lobbying in Europe. But here, too, there seems to be a fundamental lack of communication: “But it’s also clear: if you do not talk to each other about such issues, it is difficult to work together,” says Beaujean – who by the way sends the same message. to RTL, where Thomas Rabe also regularly expresses fusion fantasies in interviews – however, apparently always only in public, never in dialogue with ProSiebenSat.1. “Anyone who speaks to me can be helped,” says Beaujean, who rejects such a request from Cologne not only for antitrust reasons, but also because of the very different strategies.

But while RTL still has its hands full with the integration of Gruner + Jahr, you have to deal with Media for Europe in Unterföhring for better or worse – after all, the Italian group now owns more than a quarter of the ProSiebenSat share. Nevertheless, the signs on both sides so far still point to confrontation rather than cooperation. The fact that Media for Europe recently called for a vote on each member when the board was acquitted was an overt attempt to do away with individual board members – such as Beaujean who was not loved by the Italians. At ProSiebenSat.1, however, no one even thinks about complying with this requirement. “We on the board have always made all the decisions together and unanimously, as a team. If anyone is unhappy with the board, they have to express their distrust of the entire board,” Beaujean said. Before then, however, one would probably shy away. At least this time.

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