De Mol publicly confronts SBS-partner Sanoma

December 13, 2013 09.14 Europe/London By Robert Briel

sbsofficeAmsterdamJohn de Mol has started a war of words with its partner in SBS Broadcasting, Sanoma.

Talking to Het Financieele Dagblad, De Mol said that the Finnish media company that owns two-thirds of the Dutch private broadcaster is “not willing or able to invest” in SBS (with its three channels SBS6, Net5 and Veronica). As a result the situation is becoming “unworkable.”

Last week De Mol offered €373 million for the Sanoma shares, “a generous offer”, valuing the broadcaster at €520 million. Sanoma refused the offer and said it was not pleased by De Mol’s move. Sanoma and De Mol’s Talpa bought SBS Broadcasting for around one billion euro in the spring of 2011.

Talking to the Dutch newspaper, De Mol said that Sanoma is in the midst of a restructuring of the company scrapping a large number of magazine titles. The publisher also has run up a huge debt because of the SBS acquisition.

The broadcaster is currently underperforming and its viewing shares have not improved since the take-over. An investment of around €20 million is needed to turn around SBS’s fortunes, but De Mol believes Sanoma is not able to come up with the money. His Talpa company owns one-third of SBS.

In a statement, Sanoma said it was “unpleasantly surprised” by De Mol’s words.