By Klaus Lauer
BERLIN/FRANKFURT, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Initial offers for RTL's 48% stake in French TV channel M6 are expected by Friday after a failed tie-up with France's TF1 broadcaster, a person familiar with the matter said.
RTL AUDK.LU and its German parent Bertelsmann BTGGg.F declined to comment on when initial offers were due for the holding in M6 MMTP.PA, whose shares were up around 5% at 13.18 euros by 1224 GMT.
RTL has been "inundated" with expressions of interest in the M6 stake since TF1 and M6 called off their planned merger last week, its boss Thomas Rabe told the Financial Times on Thursday.
"This is why we are testing the market," Rabe, who is also CEO of Bertelsmann, was quoted as saying by the FT.
"On the basis of this test we will decide whether to sell or not," Rabe said.
Among those expected to bid are a consortium of high-profile French entrepreneurs including billionaire Rodolphe Saade, another source close to the matter told Reuters.
French shipping group CMA CGM, of which Saade is chairman and which he controls with his family, said it did not comment on market rumours.
Other potential buyers include French media group Vivendi VIV.PA and Altice, owned by billionaire Patrick Drahi, alongside Italian media conglomerate MediaForEurope (MFE), Reuters reported on Monday.
Vivendi, Altice and MFE declined to comment.
RTL together with French conglomerate Bouygues BOUY.PA, TF1's main shareholder, ended the plan to merge M6 and TF1 into a national television champion on Friday, saying demands by the French competition authority made it unworkable.
The authorities would only have given the green light to the deal, which was designed to forge a heavyweight in the French television and video streaming market in the face of global competition from Netflix NFLX.O, if either TF1 or M6 was sold.
If RTL wants to sell M6, a deal must be completed by spring 2023, because M6's broadcasting license comes up for renewal in May. After that, its main shareholder would not be allowed to sell it for five years.
In March 2021, when Bertelsmann confirmed talks to sell its stake, French media reported the RTL's stake was worth 1.5 billion euros ($1.48 billion), valuing all of M6 at around 3 billion euros.
($1 = 1.0142 euros)
(Reporting by Klaus Lauer in Berlin and Elvira Pollina in Milan; Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris; Writing by Emma-Victoria Farr in Frankfurt; Editing by Silvia Aloisi and Alexander Smith)
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