By Alexis Christoforous
Media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi’s MediaForEurope (MFE) is closer to becoming a Pan-European powerhouse.
Spain's stock market regulator CNMV has authorized the former Italian Prime Minister’s company to acquire the remaining 44.31% of Mediaset Espana it does not already own.
Already Italy’s largest commercial broadcaster, the media group also recently bought a stake of more than 25% in German media group ProSieben, as part of its European expansion strategy.
MFE’s chairman Fedele Confalonieri tells The Voice of Business that “size matters” in a crowded media market.
“The competitors are Google, the competitors are Apple, are Microsoft,” said Confalonieri. “They are enormous.”
He also said what sets MFE apart from the industry’s biggest players is its ability to provide hyper-local news.
“Netflix can tell you a story, but an international story, not Milanese or Neapolitan,” said Confalonieri. “One of the rules in news is what affects your neighborhood.”
Fedele has worked for MFE, formerly Mediaset, since its inception nearly 50-years ago. He was hired by Berlusconi, his childhood friend of 75 years. Confalonieri calls the sometimes controversial Berlusconi a “genius” who does not like to be surrounded by “yes” people.
At 84-years old, you will still find Confalonieri at MFE’s offices in Milan and Rome three to four times a week. He gets up “very early” and calls the morning “the best part” of his day.
A prolific pianist, Confalonieri has been playing since the age of 5. He starts each day at the piano for about an hour, playing classics from Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and Mozart.
Besides music, Confalonieri’s other labor of love is the historic Duomo in Milan. He is president of The Veneranda Fabbrica’s Board of Directors, whose mission is to restore and preserve the world’s fourth largest cathedral. The Duomo took nearly six centuries to complete. Construction began in 1386.
Confalonieri calls the Duomo a “monument” that requires 200 skilled workers to maintain its pink marble from the Candoglia quarries near Lake Maggiore.
Its main source of revenue is the millions of tourists who visit the cathedral annually. Confalonieri said pandemic-induced lockdowns hit the Duomo and other cultural institutions hard, but he said tourism has nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels.