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Mediaset Sells Endemol Debt to Exit Holding in TV Producer

Mediaset SpA, the broadcaster controlled by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, agreed to sell its debt in Endemol NV and exit the investment.

Mediaset sold about 6 percent of the senior debt on the market, its entire remaining holding in the Dutch TV producer, according to an e-mailed statement today. Mediaset sold the stake for about 72 million euros ($96 million), according to a person familiar with the deal who asked not to be named as the terms of the agreement were private.

Mediaset, its Spanish unit Mediaset Espana Comunicacion SA and partners Cyrte Fund II BV and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. took over Endemol in 2007. Endemol, which produces the “Big Brother” TV shows, said in January a majority representing more than two-thirds of its lenders had agreed “in principle” on restructuring about 2 billion euros in debt.

Mediaset’s exit from Endemol is “positive” as the transaction is expected to generate a capital gain after the company had written down its stake in Endemol to zero in 2010, Daniele Ridolfi, an analyst at Kepler Capital Markets, said in a note today. The brokerage also said the cost-cutting plan implemented by several broadcasters may “put pressure” on Endemol’s revenue in the future.

Mediaset fell 0.4 percent to 2.032 euros in Milan, giving the company a market value of 2.4 billion euros. The stock has dropped 55 percent in the past year.

Collaboration Opportunities

“We’ve enjoyed a long commercial relationship with Mediaset,” said Charlie Armitstead, a spokesman for Endemol. “We’re confident that there continue to be lots of strong opportunities going forward and we can work together on a strong future collaboration.”

Apollo Global Management and Cyrte Fund II agreed to take on the majority of Endemol debt held by other creditors and become the TV producer’s biggest shareholders as they’ll convert the loans into shares, according to comments by Cyrte founder Frank Botman in an interview with Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad published on March 23. The comments were confirmed by Eric Bosman, a spokesman for Cyrte shareholder Delta Lloyd NV.

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