CanalPlus Buys European Pay-TV Group M7 for $1.1 Billion

Courtesy of CanalPlus
CanalPlus CEO Maxime Saada

The French company is investing heavily in its streaming operations in a bid to challenge Netflix.

In the latest push by CanalPlus to challenge Netflix in Europe, the French pay-TV group has acquired the Luxembourg-based company M7 for just over $1.12 billion (1 billion euros).

M7 operates several pay-TV platforms across Benelux and the Central European territories and has an annual turnover of more than $448 million (400 million euros).

The deal follows the launch, earlier this year, of CanalPlus' Canal+Series, a new subscription VOD service which offers up a combination of French-language shows and exclusive programming from the likes of FX and Showtime.

Maxime Saada, chairman and CEO of the Canal+ Group, has said the company wants to hit 30 million SVOD subscribers worldwide in the next two years, with more than half coming from outside France.

The M7 acquisition will go some way to achieving that goal. M7 has operations in Belgium (TV Vlaanderen and TéléSat), the Netherlands (CanalDigitaal and Online.nl), Austria (HD Austria), Skylink in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, and M7 Germany in Germany. All together, M7 channels reach 3 million subscribers in Europe.

The deal will boost Canal+ Group's subscriber base to nearly 20 million subscribers worldwide, of which 12 million are in Europe.

“Our global subscriber base will have almost doubled in five years, with a clear acceleration since 2015,” Saada said in a statement. “This major acquisition would allow us to reinforce our distribution capacity and to spread more widely the contents of our catalog and our numerous production activities in Europe.”

M7 is owned by private equity firm Astorg Partners, which acquired a majority stake in the company in 2014 from an investor group led by Providence Equity Partners.

CanalPlus' latest SVOD push follows three years of belt-tightening at the company, as Saada has slashed more than half a billion dollars from the company's budget.

Saada also closed down CanalPlus' money-losing CanalPlay streaming service, the company's first attempt to take on Netflix, with a pricey premium offering of sports, series and shows similar to those available on CanalPlus' traditional pay TV platform.