Telefónica to ensure Antena 3 stays in Spanish hands

9 Apr 2003

Spanish telecoms giant Telefónica [TEFapl.MC] is continuing to dispose of its media assets with the expected sale of its controlling stake in the loss-making television and radio network Antena 3. Though the terms of the deal have not been disclosed it has been suggested that the telco will this week be seeking boardroom approval to sell half of its 59% stake in Antena 3 to the Catalan publisher Grupo Planeta for an estimated EUR1.4 billion. It is expected to confirm the disposal at its annual general meeting on Friday. Telefónica last month informed the country’s stock market regulator that it intended to seek a public listing for the broadcaster before November and would distribute 29% of the holding to its own existing shareholders, who would then be free to trade them as they pleased. Grupo Planeta was ranked as the leading contender in a group of several bidders for the remaining 30% stake, with the Spanish government – which retains a golden share in Telefónica – keen to ensure that the nation’s number two broadcaster remains in Spanish hands. The state’s biased attitude towards Grupo Planeta, which also owns the pro-government daily newspaper Le Razón, is a blow to German media group RTL [AUDK.MU], which had hoped to increase its own 17% stake in Antena 3. RTL is now considering whether to attempt to up its holding by buying shares if the broadcaster is floated, or sell up and exit altogether.