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Vivendi makes fresh legal move in Italy to stop Mediaset merger

Vivendi and Simon Fiduciaria, the company in which it has put the bulk of its stake in Mediaset in trust to meet Italian media ownership rules, have taken legal action in Italy to overturn a Milan court’s rejection of its bid to freeze the creation of a pan-European holding company that will house the merged Mediaset and Mediaset España.

Vivendi wants to suspend the creation of the new company until a further legal ruling in Italy or, at the very least, until the conclusion of a judgement pending before the Court of Justice of the European Union.

The latest legal action comes as Mediaset begins to move ahead with the initial steps to effect the merger of its Italian and Spanish arms, despite a ruling in force in Spain that has effectively suspended the merger in that jurisdiction.

The development comes after Vivendi suffered a reverse in its ongoing battle to prevent the creation of a merged Mediaset group after a Dutch court rejected an attempt by the French media giant to have the creation of Mediaset’s proposed Dutch-registered holding company for the venture suspended.

The court ruled that there were no grounds to suspend the creation of MediaForEurope, Mediaset’s planned holding company for its currently separately listed Italian and Spanish arms. It said that the question of whether the structure of the merged entity was contrary to Dutch rules could not be decided in summary proceedings.

Vivendi has said it will appeal that decision.

The merger plan remains suspended in Spain, where Vivendi recently secured a second court victory confirming an earlier ruling that the agreement should be frozen pending a further ruling later this year.