ITV, Mediaset and Ascential are the big M&A targets in European media in 2017

X FactorIan West/PAITV, which broadcasts X Factor, is one of 2017’s prime M&A targets.

The European media sector’s busy mergers and acquisition activity in 2016 is likely to increase and will put M&As center stage in 2017, according to a note from Goldman Sachs.

The note highlights ITV, Mediaset, and Ascential as the main M&A targets for the European media sector.

Goldman Sachs notes that after 21st Century Fox’s proposal to buy the remaining 61% stake it does not yet own in Sky in December, another British broadcaster, ITV, could be next.

The note names American telecoms group Liberty Global, which owns nearly 10% in ITV, as a potential buyer.

“Distributors like Liberty, Altice and BT have been increasingly moving up the value chain by creating their own content or buying content players, as owning relevant and attractive content can be an effective factor of differentiation (although this varies significantly by market),” according to the note.

The growth of streaming platforms in Europe makes owning a content producer attractive. Combined with a drop in the value of Sterling since Brexit, ITV is an attractive target for international buyers according to Goldman Sachs.

British B2B media groups Ascential and UBM were named as potential acquisition targets for the same reasons. Ascential organizes the Cannes Lions festival and owns the the fashion trends site WGSN. UBM organizes a number of IT conferences and owns specialist trade titles such as Property Week and Information Week.

The note also highlights Mediaset as a likely acquisition target, pointing to the ongoing discussions with French media group Vivendi.

According to Goldman Sachs M&A could also pick up among advertising companies as a result of clients continuing to get more services from fewer providers.

“Given their smaller size relative to other global agencies, we see Havas and Interpublic as the most likely targets,” the note said.

Havas was the most likely of the two agency holding companies to be acquired, according to the note. Instead of an acquisition by another agency group, it’s possible that Vivendi, in which Havas shareholder Bollore Group also has a stake, would be the acquirer according to the note.

Disclosure: The author is a former Havas employee.

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