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Vivendi and Mediaset open talks

September 11, 2020

By Chris Forrester

European broadcasting giants Vivendi and Mediaset seem to have tired of legal manoeuvres and have started talking to each other.

An article in French newspaper Le Figaro reports that Vivendi and Mediaset have opened communications in an attempt to put an end to a four-year long dispute between them.

According to a report from investment bank Exane/BNPP, an American group “reportedly made an offer for Mediaset last spring. Importantly, while it is suggested that Vivendi will either withdraw from Mediaset or it a pursues a full takeover, a new Vivendi industrial project combining all the European broadcasters with Canal and Mediaset seems unlikely.”

As a reminder, the bank says “On December 16th Vivendi is set to reclaim its voting rights in front of the court. Mediaset on their side have still a criminal complaint running against Vivendi in Italy for stock manipulation.”

“This all kicked off in 2016 when both groups took a participation in each other. Shortly after Vivendi refused to buy the pay-TV business from Mediset and launched a raid on 28.8 per cent of the capital of Mediaset. Since then court battles have been ongoing until July 30th when a Spanish court stopped the ‘MediaForEurope’ project. Early in September a Dutch court suggested the multiple voting rights attributed to the Berlusconi family would be abusive in such a deal and the European court also decided that the Gasparri law (which does not allow Vivendi to use the voting rights of its MS holding that has been put in a trust) was contrary to the freedom of establishment in Europe,” states Exane/BNPP.

The bank adds: “While the MS shares have gained considerably over the last days over the speculation of a potential deal with Vivendi we believe the above news of an industrial project not happening may be a small negative for the stock. On the flipside M&A is likely to drive the stock in the short term particularly given the fact that an American group potentially approached Mediaset already once for a takeover.”

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