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Mediaset resists Vivendi’s move to call new shareholder meeting

Vivendi has secured a partial recognition by Mediaset of its claim to the right to participate in majority voting as a shareholder, subject to a legal ruling to come. However the Italian broadcaster has rejected its attempt to call a new extraordinary shareholders’ meeting to cancel a resolution approved in April giving long-term shareholders double voting rights.

Mediaset’s board accepted in part Vivendi’s request to have the 9.6% stake in holds in its own right registered, subject to a court ruling in Vivendi’s favour.

The French media giant filed court paper earlier this month demanding to be registered in the sharholders list as the legitimate owner of these shares, something Mediaset had contested, arguing that Vivendi obtained its shares illicitly.

Mediaset rejected another request from Vivendi to call an EGM to overturn the April resolution in favour of long-term shareholders, something that enabled the Berlusconi family’s holding vehicle Fininvest to firm up its control of the company.

Vivendi also wants to be able to exercise certain rights related to the 19.9% of Mediaset held by Simon Fiducaria, the outfit in which it placed all shares above a 10% threshold to meet the requirements of Italy’s TUSMAR rule, which holds that companies may not simultaneously hold large stakes in telecommunications and media companies.

Mediaset had long maintained that Vivendi acquired its shareholding in the company ilegitimately. The Italian outfit has made the case that the French media group sought to manipulate Mediaset’s share price by deliberately agreeing to and then subsequently sabotaging a deal signed in 2016 that would have seen it take over Mediaset’s pay TV arm and acquire a minority stake in Mediaset itself.

Vivendi’s moves to assert its rights comes ahead of a crucial shareholder meeting in September where Mediaset and its main shareholder, the Berlusconi family’s Fininvest investment vehicle, will attempt to push through a plan to create a new holding company, MediaForEurope, in the Netherlands that will be parent to both Mediaset Italy and Mediaset España.

Vivendi is strongly critical of this plan, arguing that the price offered to shareholders that wish to exercise their withdrawal rights is too low and contrary to the interest of minority shareholders.