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Vivendi reportedly ready to reduce Mediaset stake

Vivendi could reduce its stake in Mediaset, according to sources close to the matter.

As reported by Reuters, three sources have said that Vivendi is ready to slightly withdraw from the Berlusconi-controlled Italian media company in order to end the pair’s ongoing legal row.

Vivendi, which currently holds a 29% stake in Mediaset, is opposed to the latter’s plans to create a Europe-wide company called MediaForEurope (MFE). MFE is Mediaset’s attempt to combat the rising influence of large international companies like Netflix in the European market. 

Vivendi has argued that the move is motivated by the interests of the Berlusconi family’s Finivest holding company. The main areas of contention are articles 42 and 43 of the new outfit’s articles of association that determine shareholder obligations and set the mandatory takeover threshold, which Vivendi maintains are intended to cement the Berlusconi family’s control of the new company.

Now, one source has said that the French group could cut its stake in Mediaset in exchange for a smaller stake in MFE. However, the report goes on to say that no decision has been made yet, and that talks may still fall apart. 

The companies are due in court on November 22, following the decision from the Court of Milan to postpone the hearing.

Relations between Vivendi and Mediaset soured in 2016, when the former withdrew from an €800 million agreement to buy the latter’s loss-making pay TV unit. 

Mediaset last week increased its stake in ProSiebenSat.1 as a part of its MFE aspirations. The Italian company now holds 15.1% of the German broadcaster, following the acquisition of a further 5.5% stake in the company. The purchase was done through Mediaset’s Spanish unit, Mediaset Espana.

The purchase was worth €170 million, and follows the company’s move to buy a 9.6% stake in ProSiebenSat.1 earlier this year.

In spite of this increased investment, ProSiebenSat.1 CEO Max Conze has played down talks of a potential merger.