Digital+'s sale expected this week
Iñaki Ferreras

Sogecable's satellite pay-TV operation Digital+ is expected to be sold this week.

It is Spain's main telco Telefónica that's seen as the likely bidder. This end result will see Telefónica return to Digital+'s ownership after having quit Sogecable some one year and a half ago.

On October 30th César Alierta, Telefónica's president, said the negotiations with Sogecable's owner media group Prisa in order to buy out Digital+ were "going the right way" and at the same time he said one option remain that Telefónica's interest might extend only to win a small stake in the operator which would mean a need to bring in another partner.

However, some financial market sources assure this would mean much less than the €2.5bn Prisa was initially asked for Digital+ so the operation could very well end up closing nearer €2bn, of which Telefónica would pay some €400 million in return for a stake of 20%.

Digital+ ended 2008 with a little more than 2m subscribers, although that has since slipped back to fewer than 1.9m subs.

However, and as for the other partner Telefónica now needs to control Digital+, Italy's main media group Mediaset seemingly is not now willing to proceed. Mediaset had seemed secure for a similar 20% stake on condition that it controlled Sogecable's in-the-clear national channel Cuatro.

The negotiations between Prisa and Mediaset have taken place over the last few months but Prisa's CEO Juan Luis Cebrián drew back from the talks because he reportedly doesn't want other group than his to manage the channel - which is precisely what Mediaset wanted.

Mediaset already controls another of Spain's national private TV channels, Telecinco. If Mediaset were to control Cuatro it would easily merge it with Telecinco.