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MILAN, July 1 (Reuters) - Italy’s top commercial broadcaster Mediaset has various options to embark on a long-held project to pursue cross-border consolidation and is currently talking to various potential partners, its chief executive said on Thursday.
Controlled by the family of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Mediaset last week approved moving its legal base to the Netherlands in an effort to press on with long-delayed plans to expand overseas and fend off rising competition in the sector.
“We have more than an option to kick-off the European project”, Mediaset Chief Executive Pier Silvio Berlusconi said when asked whether the company will proceed with a mooted integration of its Spanish business.
“Of course Mediaset Espana will be part of it”, he said in an online briefing with journalists.
Burlusconi also said Mediaset could consider a bid for British TV broadcaster Channel 4, if it were put up for sale and freed from its public service obligations.
He reiterated that a tie-up with Germany’s ProsiebenSat.1 , in which Mediaset is a major shareholder, would generate great value.
Mediaset’s ambition to expand abroad has stalled for the past five years due to a legal row with the company’s second largest investor Vivendi over a failed pay-TV deal.
The two groups sealed a truce in May under which the French media giant would drastically cut its stake in Mediaset over time.
When asked about possible cooperation with Vivendi in Europe after the legal settlement, Berlusconi said: “never say never”, but added there was nothing on the table currently.
The top executive also said the deals Mediaset has struck in Italy on live soccer matches for the next three seasons, including an accord to handle sport streaming service DAZN’s advertising business connected with Serie A, would generate just over 100 million euros in yearly revenue.
Reporting by Elvira Pollina, writing by Maria Pia Quaglia; editing by Agnieszka Flak, Valentina Za, Kirsten Donovan