Mediaset acquires Telefónica stake in pay TV unit

MediasetMediaset has acquired the 11.1% stake in its pay TV unit, Mediaset Premium, that was owned by Spanish telco Telefónica, giving it 100% control of the operation.

Mediaset did not disclose financial details of the deal, According to a Reuters report, citing an unnamed source, Telefónica is in line to receive part of the damages Mediaset hopes to secure from its legal dispute with Vivendi over the latter’s decision last year to pull out of a deal that would have seen it take control of the unit.

According to Reuters’ source, Mediaset had previously reached an agreement with Telefónica to buy its stake for about €70 million and then sell it on to Vivendi as part of the agreement between the Italian broadcaster and the French media giant. However, that deal fell through when Vivendi pulled out.

Telefónica originally bought its stake in Mediaset Premium in 2015 for €100 million.

Vivendi meanwhile has filed a plan with Italian regulator AGCOM to explain how it will comply with the latter’s ruling that it could not simultaneously hold sizeable stakes in Mediaset and Telecom Italia because this was in breach of Italy’s Testo Unico dei Servizi di Media Audiovisivi e Radiofonici (TUSMAR) regulation. This determines that electronics communications companies with a market share in excess of 40% cannot control more than 10% of a Sistema Integrato delle Comunicazioni (SIC) – meaning a large TV, radio and publishing outfit, such as Mediaset.

The AGCOM ruling came after Vivendi acquired a significant stake in Mediaset in a series of moves at the end of last year.

The plan filed by Vivendi to comply with the ruling has not been disclosed. AGCOM will now consider the proposal, which, if accepted, is expected to be made public. On June 28 Mediaset’s board is due to submit a plan to shareholders to buy back up to 10% of its own capital, which could enable its main shareholder Fininvest to strengthen its grip on the company.

Vivendi is separately continuing to contest the ACGOM ruling, last week filing an appeal against it with the Tribunale Administrivo Regionale (TAR).