Milan Court may look again at Vivendi-Mediaset dispute

The Milan court that last week considered the ongoing dispute between Vivendi and Mediaset has reserved the right to decide on Vivendi’s case at a later date, with the possibility of another hearing soon or possibly after Mediaset’s planned EGM on January 10, according to local reports. 

Judge Elena Crugnola has reserved the right to look again at Vivendi’s suit over the merger of Mediaset’s Italian and Spanish operations and the creation of a new Dutch-registered holding company, which the French media giant claims is prejudicial to the interests of minority shareholders. 

The latest development comes after a postponed court hearing on Friday and the failure of the two sides to strike a deal whereby Vivendi would agree to sell part of its stake in Mediaset that it holds indirectly through a trust as part of a wider agreement that would have seen both sides drop outstanding legal actions against each other. 

Mediaset said last week that “despite strenuous efforts”, attempts at a reconciliation between the pair promoted by a Milan court had failed to produce a deal.

Vivendi and Mediaset have been at loggerheads over Mediaset’s plans to merge its Italian and Spanish operations under the aegis of a new Dutch-registered holding company, MediaForEurope (MFE). Vivendi successfully blocked the implementation of the merger through legal action in Spain.

The pair have also been engaged in a long-term dispute over Vivendi’s decision to pull out of a deal in 2016 that would have seen it acquire Mediaset’s pay TV arm and invest in the parent company. Vivendi subsequently acquired a significant stake in Mediaset, with the Italian broadcaster accusing it of seeking to manipulate its share price to its own advantage.

Ahead of last Friday’s deadline, Vivendi was understood to have proposed selling the part of its 19.19% 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 MediaFor Europe. A sale would leave Vivendi with a stake of 9.6% in the Italian broadcaster. The pair were reportedly negotiating a compromise price as part of a deal that would also have seen them end outstanding litigation, but in the end they once again failed to strike a agreement.

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