Vivendi has speedily built up a 20 per cent stake in Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset broadcasting empire. Berlusconi’s family are reported to be resisting the take-over move, and the Italian state says it is “on alert” to the French move.
Equity analyst Sami Kassab at Investment bank Exane-BNP/Paribas, in a note to clients December 15, says that after declaring on December 12th that it had acquired 3.01 per cent of Mediaset and declaring December 13th that it had 12 per cent of the capital, “Vivendi has now declared that it owns 20% of Mediaset. As a reminder Vivendi had stated that it was aiming to build a 10-20% stake as a first step.”
Kassab says the bank believes Vivendi is looking to create “a ‘latin’ media powerhouse and has acquired a controlling stake in Telecom Italia (c24 per cent of ordinary shares and board representation) and acquired a few small independent content producers.”
He continued: “We see Mediaet as a relatively low quality asset but one could equally argue that Vivendi could help the group to boost its presence online and be part of a broader play to a/ create a European / EM alternative to Netflix and b/ bring Mediaset (or part of Mediaset) and its content close to Telecom Italia and allow the Telco group to differentiate amidst growing competition. As a reminder Vivendi will have to launch a mandatory offer it if crosses the 30% threshold which seems unlikely as Fininvest controls c40% of Mediaset.”