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Mediaset gives itself extra time after Spanish court rejects merger appeal

Mediaset has filed its plan to merge its Italian and Spanish unites with the Dutch register of companies in a move that gives it extra time to complete the project after it suffered a fresh legal reverse in Spain.

According to Reuters, citing an unnamed source, the filing gives Mediaset a further six months to complete its creation of a combined company under the MediaForEurope banner. An earlier deadline for completion had been set to expire next month.

The move comes after a Spanish judge rejected an appeal by the Italian company against a ruling suspending the merger that arch-enemy – and major Mediaset shareholder – Vivendi had secured late last year.

Vivendi has initiated legal battles to stop the merger, which it says is prejudicial to the interests of minority shareholders and designed to cement the Berlusconi’s family’s control of the company, on multiple fronts.

This latest setback for Mediaset means that the MediaForEurope merger cannot happen until the Spanish court rules on whether it is lawful, a process that could take a number of months.

“Vivendi is very satisfied with [the] decision from the Court of Appeal of Madrid. The MediaForEurope merger process remains suspended since the Court rejected Mediaset’s request to overturn the Commercial Court’s decision from last October,” said a Vivendi spokesman of the court ruling.

“The Court confirmed that the planned merger was imposed in an abusive manner by Mediaset and its controlling shareholder Fininvest to the detriment of all minority shareholders. [The] decision, with no appeal possible, is an important step in Vivendi’s demonstration that the merger plan is unlawful.”

The shareholders in Mediaset’s separately listed Italian and Spanish units have approved an amended version of the MediaForEurope plan in separate EGMs, but the Spanish company’s approval is ineffective while the plan is held up in the courts.