‘Big Brother’ Creator De Mol Bids for Dutch Publisher TMG

  • Dutch TV billionaire counters Mediahuis, VP Exploitatie offer
  • De Telegraaf owner TMG says it will weigh strategic options

The creator of hit TV shows “Big Brother” and “The Voice” has offered to buy Telegraaf Media Groep NV for 274 million euros ($294 million), countering a lower bid for control of the Dutch newspaper publisher.

Bllionaire John de Mol’s Talpa Holding made an unsolicited cash offer of 5.90 euros a share for TMG, publisher of De Telegraaf daily and a number of regional newspapers in the Netherlands, according to a statement Monday. The offer is 12 percent higher than a proposal that closely held Belgian group Mediahuis NV and Dutch investment fund VP Exploitatie announced on Dec. 14. De Mol built an 18.4 percent stake in TMG this month, according to a filing with regulator AFM on Jan. 17, and has since raised his holding to just above 20 percent.

John de Mol

Photographer: Remko De Waal/AFP via Getty Images

TMG will compare Talpa’s proposal to the rival Belgian bid and a “standalone strategy and other strategic alternatives,” the company said Monday in a statement.

TMG would add to De Mol’s collection of Dutch media investments, which now include TV and radio stations. The company’s assets include Amsterdam-based De Telegraaf, which ditched 121 years of broadsheet format in 2014 to become a tabloid. TMG and De Mol’s Talpa have partnered to deliver more online video in recent months, combining Talpa’s television expertise with TMG’s content in an app and on the web.

At 5.25 euros a share, the bid from Mediahuis and VP Exploitatie doesn’t demonstrate a strong belief in TMG’s capabilities, Talpa said in a statement. Talpa considers TMG of strategic importance and isn’t considering selling its shares, De Mol’s company said.

Like global peers, TMG has struggled with falling subscription rates for its newspapers and a slump in advertising as consumers increasingly go online for their news. The publisher has sold several magazine titles and disposed of its Swedish operations in recent years to cut costs and focus on its core brands. Last year, TMG said it’s considering a sale-and-leaseback transaction of its real estate portfolio to further cut costs.

Talpa Holding owns one-third of SBS Nederland, which operates a string of Dutch TV and radio stations. De Mol, 61, founded the company in 2004 after leaving Endemol, where he created “Big Brother.”

Shares in TMG advanced 1.8 percent to 5.91 euros, just above the price De Mol offered.

Talpa Media, formerly part of Talpa Holding, was sold to U.K. broadcaster ITV Plc in 2015. Talpa Media produces shows including “The Voice,” “The Voice Kids” and “Dance Dance Dance.”

— With assistance by Fred Pals

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