Mediaset and F2i make $1.89bn bid for EI Towers
20 July 2018 | Natalie Bannerman
Mediaset, Italy’s biggest commercial broadcaster, has partnered with F2i, the infrastructure fund, to make a $1.89 billion bid for tower company El Towers.
F2i and Mediaset already owns 40% of El Towers and have offered €57 per share for the infrastructure group valuing it at a total of €1.61 billion ($1.89 billion).
The news is expected to encourage consolidation in the sector given its fragmented condition in Italy and while past attempts at consolidation have been unsuccessful.
“We see this deal as likely to herald increased M&A in the Italian tower segment, with greater prospects for another bid for (state-controlled) Rai Way in due course, or for telecommunications infrastructure assets should they become available,” said brokers Berenberg in a report.
The move has been praised by industry players alike with Rai Way, the owner and operator of the TV towers of Italian national broadcaster RAI recently saying that industry consolidation “made sense” and that any mergers would inevitably involve the company’s assets.
A buyout by F2i and Mediaset would make a merger between the two more likely as it would result in El Tower becoming a private company with the state-sponsored F2i retaining a controlling stake. Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), Italy’s state fund, owns 14% of F2i.
Speaking to Reuters, equity analysts said that such a merger has a greater chance of success because its “it would be F2i and not Mediaset driving it.”
Additionally, sources close to the matter told Reuters that Rai Way was interested in merging with El Towers “but under certain conditions, starting with the price.”
Pier Silvio Berlusconi, chief executive of Mediaset last year said that it was happy to loosen its grip on El Towers if Rai Way launched an offer on its bigger rival.
La Repubblica daily reported that F2i and Mediaset could separate El Towers’ broadcast masts from the telecoms ones, merging it with Rai Way and selling the telecoms infrastructure, which according to the daily could be Spain’s Cellnex.