Prisa, Mediapro talk on tie-up

Iñaki Ferreras

Spanish media groups Prisa, which owns Sogecable and Mediapro, which owns laSexta, are in talks over a possible future merger. Big banks Santander, La Caixa, Caja Madrid and BBVA could finance the new merged company.

In a second phase would come the merger of national private channels Cuatro, operated by Sogecable, and Mediapro's laSexta. In this operation Mediapro would provide the soccer rights that Sogecable had until last season and lost to its competitor.

Between both companies there are some €3,000 million at stake in promised contracts and in debt. Mediapro has almost all of the Spanish soccer audiovisual rights for the next three years. But over at Prisa they think these rights are illegal so the companies have been fighting over the issue for the last two years. A judges' decision will be handed down on the fight, but not until next year.

Prisa desperately needs money because its debt amounts to €5,054 million when in 2008 this figure was only €890 million. On its side Mediapro needs the highest number of screens to distribute the matches to which it holds the rights. Mediapro's debt went up to €2,000 million by the end of last year.

A recent report from bank Banesto Bolsa considers the merger of both companies would generate synergies of €70 million.