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Vivendi open to selling indirect Mediaset stake to find compromise

Vivendi is willing to selling the 19.19% stake held in Mediaset through Simon Fiduciaria, operating as a blind trust, as a ‘goodwill gesture’ to open the way to an agreement with Mediaset. 

Confirming a story from Bloomberg, sources familiar with the situation told Digital TV Europe that they believe Vivendi is open to selling the part of its stake held through Simon Fiduciaria at €3.25 a share, which would be half-way between the original buying price of the shares and the withdrawal price proposed by Mediaset as part of the plan to create a new Dutch-based holding company, MediaForEurope that would see the merger of its Italian and Spanish broadcast operations. 

A price of €3.25 would value the 19.19% stake held through Simon Fiduciaria at €736.8 million. Mediaset had earlier reportedly offered €2.77 a share, matching the withdrawal offer. 

The apparent offer to sell the part of Vivendi’s stake held indirectly comes ahead of a court hearing today in Milan that is believed unlikely to produce any agreement. The judge could now give the warring parties longer to strike a deal or, failing that, rule on the modification of the articles in the merger agreement that Vivendi objects to.

Vivendi has said that current proposed rules covering the governance of for MediaForEurope would have a deleterious impact on governance and the treatment of minority shareholders. 

Last month, Vivendi secured a victory in a Spanish court which put the MediaForEurope plan on hold. 

The two companies have been at loggerheads since 2016, when Vivendi pulled out of an agreement to purchase Mediaset’s pay TV arm and invest in the broadcaster as part of a wider strategic partnership. 

The pair share a common vision of the need to build a pan-European media business, with Vivendi focusing on a Southern European strategy based on areas of cultural commonality. However, while Mediaset has always been seen as a natural partner in such an alignment, the  long-running dispute makes the prospect of turning a limited deal over Vivendi’s stake in Mediaset and the creation of MediaForEurope into a new, wider strategic agreement seems remote.