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Vivendi files complaint against Mediaset with regulator

Vivendi has opened a new front in its war with Mediaset by filing a complaint against the Italian media group with regulator CONSOB over Mediaset’s communication of the ruling of the Court of Milan in relation to the voting rights of Simon Fiducaria, the trust in which Vivendi has deposited the majority of its Mediaset shares.

According to Vivendi’s filing, mediaset provided inaccurate and misleading information about the court ruling with the intention of manipulating its own stock price.

The move comes after Mediaset issued a statement claiming that the court had backed its refusal to let Simon Fiducaria exercise voting rights at tomorrows EGM, when Mediaset shareholders will decide on whether to give a green light to the company’s plan to merge with Mediaset España and create a new holding company based in the Netherlands.

Vivendi argued that the court had rejected the reasoning Mediaset had used to exclude Vivendi from voting at a previous shareholder meeting in April and that it had not pronounced on Simon Fiducaria.

Mediaset had claimed, on the contrary, that the court ruling explicitly endorsed its refusal to let Simon Fiducaria participate.

CONSOB yesterday requested Mediaset to make the full text of the court ruling available on its website. Mediaset accepted the request “for the sole purposes of clarity”, it said.

The stakes are high for both Mediaset and Vivendi. The French media group has committed to voting against the merger plan, but is believed to have little chance of securing victory without Simon Fiducaria’s votes.

The Milan court ruled in favour of Vivendi’s rights to participate in the shareholder vote.

Vivendi applied to the court to have its voting rights recognised a week ago after Mediaset filed a complaint with Italian markets regulator CONSOB that the French media giant was attempting to manipulate Mediaset’s share price downwards.

Mediaset accused Vivendi of unlawfully manipulating its share price in order to make the deal more difficult to achieve as well as discrediting the rationale behind it.

The complaint filed to CONSOB was also sent to communications regulator AGCOM, which is tasked with monitoring Vivendi’s compliance or non-compliance with the Italian law that prevents companies from simultaneously holding stakes in media and telecommunications firms. Vivendi passed the bulk of its shares in Mediaset to Simon Fiducaria in order to comply with the rule as it is also the biggest shareholder in Telecom Italia.