According to the paper, the pair could be seeking to strike an agreement in anticipation of any tender offer that could be made by Vivendi, now a 30% shareholder in Mediaset, for the company. Such a move could force any sale of the pay TV unit to be put on hold pending approval by shareholders, thanks to a rule preventing ‘defensive’ actions of this type by takeover targets.
Italian regulator AGCOM is due to rule on whether Vivendi should be allowed to retain both a controlling stake in Telecom Italia and a sizeable stake in Mediaset in the coming weeks.
However, a deal between Mediaset and Sky could trigger a competition investigation because it would see Sky take full ownership of premium football rights.
Separately, Gaetano Micciche, president of Banca IMI, an advisor to Mediaset, has reportedly expressed the view that a deal between Mediaset and Vivendi would be in the best interest of both companies, although Micciche emphasised that he was speaking in a personal capacity.
Mediaset last month told investors it would rethink its pay TV strategy, making its pay TV channels and content available to other operators and opening up its domestic digital-terrestrial pay TV platform to all third-party content players
Mediaset said that “a new structure” would be set up to enable Mediaset Premium to “participate in auctions” for rights with “an approach oriented towards real business opportunities” – a possible hint that the group would also look for partnerships in this area to offset the huge cost of securing exclusive rights.
In its presentation to investors , Mediaset said it would “remain a non-sport channel publisher with a multi-platform distribution” and would “adopt an opportunistic approach to football rights”. It said its goal would be to achieve a “sustainable business irrespective of the football auctions’ outcome”, referring to the forthcoming round of auctions for Champions League and Serie A rights.