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Vivendi and Mediaset struggling to find common ground ahead of postponed court hearing

With the clock ticking ahead of a court hearing in Milan postponed from last week, Vivendi and Mediaset appear to be struggling to agree a price acceptable for the indirect stake in the Italian broadcaster held by Vivendi through Simon Fiduciaria that is acceptable to both. 

Mediaset CEO Pier Silvio Berlusconi had said at the start of the week that he was “very optimistic” about a deal despite what he described as a “beyond unpredictable” negotiating partner. However, the pair appear to be struggling to agree a price for the shares that Vivendi has offered to sell as a goodwill gesture. 

The pair are in dispute over Mediaset’s plans to create a new Dutch-based holding company that will combine the group’s merged and Spanish assets, with Vivendi accusing it of trying to set up a structure that will be highly prejudicial to the interests of minority investors. The French media group managed to block the creation of the new holding company, MediaForEurope, in a case brought in Spain. 

“Vivendi has received very differing signals from Mediaset in recent days on its willingness to settle the dispute,” a source close to the situation told various news outlets, including Digital TV Europe. 

“Vivendi is and has always been available to find an agreed solution in good faith and still hopes that Mediaset will come up with a fair proposal related to the sale of Vivendi’s shares and with guarantees for the full respect of the rights of minority shareholders and the basic principles of corporate governance.”

Sources close to Mediaset meanwhile told Agence France-Presse that the Italian group had made counter-proposals to Vivendi’s offer. 

Vivendi had earlier indicated that it was willing to sell the 19.19% stake held by Simon Fiduciaria  at a price half-way between what it paid for it and the withdrawal price offered by Mediaset to shareholders that did not wish to participate in the merger as a ‘goodwill gesture’ to open the way to an agreement with Mediaset.