Exclusive: Bollore, Chinese and U.S. firms bid for Spain's Mediapro - sources

Fri Dec 16, 2016 7:17am EST
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By Andrés González

MADRID (Reuters) - French media tycoon Vincent Bollore is bidding for a stake in Spain's largest sports broadcasting rights firm at the same time as facing off with former Italian president Silvio Berlusconi for control of Mediaset (MS.MI: Quote).

Bollore's Vivendi (VIV.PA: Quote) is one of 10 bidders, alongside a number of Chinese and U.S. investors, hoping to land either a 30 percent or 51 percent stake in Spain's Imagina, two sources with knowledge of the matter said.

The race for Imagina epitomizes the broader trends in the media industry: deep-pocketed Chinese investors are snapping up sports and entertainment assets abroad while European and U.S. media giants are on the hunt for ever more content.

Besides a string of acquisitions by Chinese investors, Vivendi took a 20 percent stake in Italian broadcaster Mediaset this week and Twenty-First Century Fox (FOXA.O: Quote) struck a deal to buy European pay-TV firm Sky (SKYB.L: Quote).

Imagina, usually just known as Mediapro after the name of one of its subsidiaries, has the rights to distribute the La Liga soccer championship around the world and also produces movies and television series.

"Bidders sent their non-binding offers on Monday. They are from Asia, Europe and the U.S.," said one of the sources directly involved in the deal.

A second source said there were about 10 offers, including from Vivendi, Alibaba's (BABA.N: Quote) Alisports, China's Citic Private Equity Funds management, Chinese real estate and entertainment firm Dalian Wanda Group Co Wanda, U.S. media company Liberty Media LMCA.O and private equity fund Advent.

Imagina, Vivendi, Wanda, Citic PE and Advent declined to comment. Liberty did not respond to requests for comment and a spokeswoman for Alisports said it had not placed a bid.   Continued...

File photo of Vincent Bollore, Chairman of media group Vivendi, reacts during the company's shareholders meeting in Paris, France, April 21, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo