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Vivendi files for damages against Mediaset in Italy

Vivendi has followed up the legal action it initiated to disrupt the creation of Mediaset’s new European holding company in the Netherlands by filing a suit against the company in Italy.

Mediaset said it had received a writ of summons from the French media giant requesting the Court of Milan to annul the resolution in favour of the merger passed by the Mediaset EGM in September. Vivendi is also seeking damages from harm to its business and prejudice to the profitability and value of its stake n the company.

The writ called for a cancellation of resolutions adopted by Mediaset including one preventing Simon Fiduciaria from being present at the meeting and exercising rights in relation to its stake in the Italian broadcaster.

Vivendi was obliged to pass the bulk of its 29% stake in Mediaset to Simon Fiduciaria, acting as a blind trust, in order to comply with Italian regulations preventing groups from simultaneously holding large stakes in broadcast and telecom companies.

However, Mediaset has maintained that Vivendi acquired its stake in Mediaset illicitly and that Simon Fiduciaria is merely a proxy for it. Simon Fiduciaria holds a 19.19% stake in Mediaset.

Vivendi’s lawsuit also alleges that Fininvest, the Berlusconi family’s investment vehicle and Mediaset’s largest shareholder, effectively manages and coordinates activities at Mediaset.

The French company is also demanding a declaration that it is a legitimate shareholder and exercise all rights connected to the 9.61% stake in the company it continues to hold directly, as well as exercising rights connected to Simon Fiduciaria’s stake.

Vivendi is also seeking to establish that Mediaset and Fininvest acted illegally by preventing Simon Fiduciaria from attending the shareholder meeting.

The first court hearing is set for January 10.