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Vivendi agrees to put Mediaset shares in blind trust

The Vivendi office is seen in Paris on Wednesday, May 17, 2006.Vivendi has agreed to transfer its stake in Mediaset above a threshold of 10% to a blind trust ahead of a likely sale of its shares later, according to Italian press.

The move follows the ruling by media regulator AGCOM that Vivendi could not simultaneously hold major stakes in Mediaset and Telecom Italia, forcing the French media group to choose to focus on its interest in the telco, over which it has effective management control.

Vivendi has a stake of just under 30% in Mediaset, acquired in a series of moves at the end of last year. The regulator ruled that its position was in breach of the Testo Unico dei Servizi di Media Audiovisivi e Radiofonici (TUSMAR) regulation that 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.

Vivendi submitted its plan at the end of last week. The French company is simultaneously appealing the ruling. However, failure to comply with the AGCOM’s demands could have exposed it to a large fine.

Italian markets regulator CONSOB meanwhile last week demanded that Vivendi clarify whether it has a controlling interest in the telco. Telecom Italia had earlier said that it was “coordinating” with Vivendi in relation to the strengthening of its management and to achieve “greater coordination between the industrial and commercial activities of the different companies, in the context of the existing strategic plan” and also in relation to its planned creation of a joint venture with Canal+ Group “to establish, also in the context of the existing strategic plan, a form of coordination between the two corporate groups in the multimedia sector.”

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