Vivendi reportedly edging towards compromise deal with Mediaset

The Vivendi office is seen in Paris on Wednesday, May 17, 2006.Vivendi may make a new proposal to Mediaset following the acrimonious collapse of its previously agreed strategic partnership with the Italian broadcaster and could use Italy’s Mediobanca as an intermediary, according to Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore.

According to the financial daily, Vivendi could make peace overtures to coincide with its half-year results on August 25, though a formal offer would most likely only come later, possibly at the end of August or in early September.

Mediobanca has already raised the idea that a telecom operator – most likely Telefónica – could take a third-party role in any deal.

The original agreement between Vivendi and Mediaset foresaw an alliance to invest in, and distribute, content internationally. Il Sole 24 Ore raised the possibility that Telefónica, which holds an 11.1% stake in Mediaset Premium, the pay TV unit at the centre of the battle between the French and Italian companies, could play a role in any new agreement between the pair by taking on the role of distributing their content in markets in which it is active.

An earlier report by Milano Finanza cited a report by Mediobanca analysts entitled “Prepararsi a un’estate calda” that suggested a new agreement could be based on Vivendi and Mediaset agreeing each to take a 40% stake in Mediaset Premium with a telecom group taking 20%.

Vivendi chairman Vincent Bolloré’s Bolloré Group has a 7.9% stake in Mediobanca.

Vivendi and Mediaset spectacularly fell out last month over the French company’s decision to withdraw from an agreement that would have seem the pair exchange small stakes in each other and Vivendi take a controlling stake in the loss-making Mediaset Premium.

Interviewed by the Financial Times earlier this month, Mediaset chairman Pier Silvio Berlusconi rejected Vivendi’s claims that it had been unaware of what it was buying, and threatened to take legal acton against the French media giant. However, he also said he remained open to an agreement on the basis of the original April 8 deal between the pair.

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