Vivendi and Mediaset are close to burying the hatchet and striking an agreement that will see the French media giant reduce its stake in the Italian broadcaster and create a space for collaboration based on the recently established JV between Canal+ and Telecom Italia, according to a report in Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
According to the newspaper, a deal between the pair could see Vivendi reduce its much-resented stake in Mediaset from 28.8% to about 5%. Mediaset Premium, the Italian broadcaster’s struggling pay TV arm that is at the centre of the dispute between the pair, will form an alliance with the Canal+-Telecom Italia JV to offer a new on-demand offering to Italian consumers.
According to La Repubblica, the pair aim to come to an agreement soon, with the next hearing related to Mediaset’s €3 billion lawsuit against the French company scheduled for December 19 and the crucial allocation of TV rights for Italian Serie A football set to be made before the end of the year.
Vivendi and Mediaset originally planned a strategic alliance that would have seen the French company take control of Mediaset Premium and Vivendi and Mediaset exchange 3.5% stakes in each other. However, the pair spectacularly fell out when Vivendi unilaterally pulled out of the deal.
Vivendi-backed Telecom Italia, in which the French company has a 23.9% stake, is separately trying to find an accommodation with the Italian state, has triggered its ‘Golden Power’ to intervene in cases where it believes its national interests are threatened after Vivendi was characterized as exercising a controlling interest in the telco.
Vivendi was earlier forced to commit to ultimately reducing its stake in Mediaset to 10% after Italian regulator AGCOM ruled that holding simultaneous large stakes in Mediaset and Telecom Italia was in breach of the 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.