TF1 snaps up 33.5% of AB Grop


PARIS -- French broadcaster TF1 has taken a 33.5% financial stake in AB Group for €230 million ($306 million), TF1 said Tuesday.

Chairman Claude Berda, who owns 66.5% of the equity, will maintain exclusive control of AB Group, a leading supplier of thematic channels to the digital pay TV market in France.

The AB Group, which posted revenues of €202 million ($269.2 million) and a net profit of €46 million ($61.3 million) in 2005, owns a library of more than 1,300 French-language shows, a total of 37,000 hours of programming. It also is involved in merchandising.

AB Group edits free-to-air channels TMC (a 40% stake) and NT1 (100% stake) in France and AB 3 and AB 4 in Belgium in addition to pay channels on satellite, cable, DTT and ADSL, including RTL 9 (65% stake).

The move is part of TF1's strategy "to focus on the editing and broadcasting of content," the company said in a statement. TF1 will fill two of the six seats on AB Group's board.