Mediaset is close to selling its pay-TV unit to Vivendi, in a move that would strengthen the French media group’s grip on Italy, Reuters reports.
Vivendi is already the biggest shareholder in Telecom Italia with a 23.8 per cent stake and is seeking to build a significant southern European business.
The talks are being led directly by Mediaset Chief Executive Pier Silvio Berlusconi, the son of the former Italian prime minister and Mediaset founder, and Vivendi Chairman Vincent Bollore.
Apparently, Vivendi is seeking to buy Mediaset’s entire 89 per cent stake for which it would pay half in cash and half in Vivendi shares. The remaining 11 per cent in Mediaset Premium is held by Spain’s Telefonica, which it bought last year in a deal valuing the whole unit at around €1 billion.
There is also a possibility of the two groups setting up a European joint venture to rival Sky.
Mediaset Premium is loss-making, but in 2014 acquired the exclusive rights to broadcast Champions League matches in Italy for an estimated €700 million, giving it a commercial advantage over Sky Italia.