Mediaset takes legal action against Vivendi

MediasetMediaset has filed a suit to force Vivendi to honour the terms of its April 8 contract to take control of the Italian broadcaster’s pay TV arm.

The move follows Vivendi’s decision last month to propose a revised partnership with Mediaset that would see it take only a 20% stake in Mediaset Premium, along with a 15% in Mediaset proper. The original deal would have seen Vivendi and Mediaset exchange 3.5% stakes in each other while Vivendi would ultimately have taken 100% control of the pay TV operation, including the minority stake currently held by Telefónica.

Mediaset has estimated damages totalling €50 million every month starting from July 25, the date that Vivendi said it did not intend to honour the contract on the grounds that an analysis of Mediaset Premium’s accounts carried out after the deal had uncovered new information about the company’s prospects.

Mediaset said that it risked losing €1.5 billion in Vivendi fails to keep its side of the deal. The company specified that this figure refers to the total damage that a definitive breaking of the April 8 contract would entail. The Italian media company dismissed the alternative proposal put forward by Vivendi as “dilatory”.

However, Mediaset is not yet suing Vivendi for the full €1.5 billion, restricting its action to an attempt to force the French company to fulfil the contract. This has led observers to speculate that the legal move is largely tactical, putting pressure on Vivendi amid reports that the pair may be edging towards some kind of compromise.

According to Italian press reports, Mediaset’s parent company Fininvest is set to launch its own legal move against Vivendi this week.