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Despite having earlier intimated that its intentions were limited to securing a 20 per cent stake in Italian broadcaster Mediaset, French media group Vivendi is ramping up its negotiating position relative to the disagreement between the two parties following a failed pay-TV cooperation.
Vivendi has confirmed that its Management Board met has decided, with the Supervisory Board’s authorisation, to increase its investment in Mediaset by acquiring additional shares depending on market conditions within the limits of 30 per cent of the share capital and voting rights.
Vivendi announced on April 8, 2016 that it had concluded a strategic and industrial partnership with Mediaset. As a first step, Vivendi was to acquire 3.5 per cent of Mediaset’s share capital and 100 per cent of the share capital of the Mediaset Premium pay-television company, in exchange for 3.5 per cent of Vivendi’s share capital. The envisaged Mediaset Premium acquisition unfortunately led to a lawsuit and Vivendi’s proposals aimed at finding an amicable solution to the dispute were not agreed by Mediaset and its shareholder Fininvest.
As Vivendi believes that the strategic interest of the industrial partnership announced on April 8, 2016 supersedes the stakes of the lawsuit, Vivendi decided to become Mediaset’s second largest industrial shareholder by acquiring, to begin with, 20 per cent of the Mediaset share capital, a position achieved on December 15.
Following a meeting between Arnaud de Puyfontaine, Chairman of the Management Board, and Pier Silvio Berlusconi, Chief Executive Officer of Mediaset, on December 16, 2016, and the press release issued by Mediaset on December 17, 2016, and considering Fininvest’s recent positions, Vivendi has decided to pursue a strategy of acquiring 30 per cent of Mediaset.
In a Statement, Vivendi said it reminds that its presence in the Mediaset equity is in line with the Group’s intention to develop its activities in Southern Europe and its strategic ambitions as a major international, European-based, media and content group.
In its own Statement, Mediaset said that what it describes as “the grave claims” made by Puyfontaine in an interview published December 19 in the Italian press would receive “an adequate response” in the appropriate quarters.
“In any case, Mediaset wishes to immediately make clear that there is no ongoing negotiation. At yesterday’s meeting, held at the request of Vivendi, the company reiterated its position along with its duty to protect the interests of the company and all its shareholders, and not only one which holds 20 per cent of the stock,” it stated