German media titans ProSiebenSat and Axel Springer could be on the verge of a mega $16 billion merger according to reports. The Wall Street Jounal says talks to combine the two companies are at an early stage and could still face regulatory anti-competition hurdles. A previous merger attempt ten years ago between the two companies initiated by Axel Springer was blocked after protests from Germany’s media watchdog KEK and the country’s anti-trust body. The shifting digital and political landscape in the ensuing decade would, however, appear to have eased these fears. Last year, Germany’s Federal Administrative Court overruled the KEK’s objections to a merger, plus the more competitive media landscape in general- with the likes of Sky Europe and Netflix- means anti-trust issues are less significant.
Worth over $10 billion, ProSiebenSat has a 28.9% share of Germany’s free-TV market. Axel Springer, worth more than $5 billion, owns the country’s bestselling daily Bild. Last year, Springer acquired news channel N24 from ProSieben. Springer is moving away from traditional print products to invest heavily in digital media. Springer made 63 % of its revenues and 73 % of its core profit from digital products.
Any deal between the two companies would likely recognize ProSiebenSat as the senior partner. ProSieben shares closed at $48.7 on Monday, while Springer closed at $51.8.