Leading French broadcaster TF1 has acquired France Television's and France Telecom's 25% stake in Television Par Satellite (TPS) for Euros 195m.
Following its acquisition of France Telecom's16.5%, and public broadcaster France Television's 8.5% stake, TF1 will hold 50% of the loss-making digital satellite operation, along with private broadcaster M6 and cable operator Suez Lyonnaise, each holding a 25% stake in TPS.
Observers are already speculating that TF1 will next move on Suez's 25% stake in order to fully control TPS. Suez is viewed as an ally of M6, in which it is a shareholder.
TF1 has been keen to strengthen its position in TPS, (as has M6's main shareholder RTL). TF1 has been at odds with M6 and Suez on various occasions, including opposing a link-up with CanalSatellite, which was supported by Suez.
According to France Telecom the deal values TPS on a per-subscriber basis of Euros 1,020. This would imply that the company has 764,000 subscribers, a figure lower than the one million usually attributed to it.
TPS registered Euros 385m in revenues for 2000, compared to Euros 590m for CanalSatellite and a Euros 12.2m loss, whereas CanalSatellite, with 1.6 million subscribers, registered a Euros 17.5m profit for the same period.
The deal is expected to be completed during the first quarter.