It's a big yes for the shareholders of M6.
They largely approved on Tuesday the proposed merger of the television and radio group with its competitor TF1 which, if authorized, would lead to the creation of a French giant in audiovisual production and advertising.
With more than 99% of the votes, they validated the modification of the statutes paving the way for this merger, announced in May 2021 and which must be finalized at the beginning of 2023 after having received the agreement of Arcom (ex-CSA) and the Competition Authority.
“Some opponents of the operation say that we are too big compared to the French market, others that we are too small compared to international players.
We are going to find a happy medium, ”said Nicolas de Tavernost, who chaired what should be the last general assembly of the group which he has led for more than 20 years and whose creation he had piloted.
A French giant in the audiovisual rights market
A merger of TF1, owned by Bouygues, and M6 (put up for sale by the German Bertelsmann, shareholder of RTL Group), would create a French giant in the market for audiovisual rights, channel distribution and advertising television, with around 75% of French turnover in the latter sector.
Before that, various regulatory obligations – in particular shareholders – will have to be respected.
Due to these, the activities related to M6's authorization to issue will be maintained in a listed legal entity, "M6 Edition", then, for each share of the current group, shareholders will receive 2.1 shares of the new group, as well as an exceptional dividend of 1.5 euro.
"There will be no taxation (tax) of the action received which will not be considered as a dividend but as a split of the M6 title", assured this Tuesday the leaders of the chain.
In doing so, they are careful not to follow the path taken by the media giant Vivendi when it had detached its nugget Universal Music: shareholders had complained of having been taxed.
The issue of synergies at stake
The shareholders of M6 have also raised the age limit for members of the management board to 75, allowing Nicolas de Tavernost "to continue his mission, both to lead the group during the period of authorization of the operation by the public authorities , until after the merger as the first operational president of the new group.
The 71-year-old manager, who remained at the helm of the group after having twice obtained a postponement of the age limit, however obtained the release of his severance pay of 3.5 million euros, bringing the total amount of his 2021 compensation at 5.5 million euros.
There remains the question of “synergies” between M6 and TF1, estimated between 250 and 350 million euros, depending on the “remedies” that the Competition Authority will impose to limit the dominant position of the new group.
“One of the reasons for this operation is that the synergies could be partly reinvested in an ambitious streaming policy, which is a consumer” of investment, said Nicolas de Tavernost.
The managing director of the RTL group, the radio division acquired by M6 in 2017, Régis Ravanas, wanted to be more precise, citing for example "a synergy of advertising agencies".
Régis Ravanas also intends to “promote RTL antennas on the TF1 group media”, recover presenters from the first channel and why not broadcast certain radio programs, such as the morning show of Fun Radio, on the TF1 group channels.
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