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Vivendi in fresh move to thwart Mediaset’s merger plan

Vivendi is involved in a fresh move to thwart Mediaset’s plans to merge its Italian and Spanish operations under the umbrella of a Dutch-registered holding company, MediaForEurope (MFE).

Mediaset España informed markets regulator the CNMV that it had received a notice from the French media giant challenging the changes to the merger plan adopted at the company’s extraordinary general meeting in March.

This meeting made a number of adjustments to the statutes of the planned new Dutch holding company to meet legal requirements set after an earlier challenge by Vivendi.

Vivendi has now sought to further delay the merger by securing precautionary measures, which will be subject to a new court hearing on July 22.

Vivendi holds a 28.8% stake in Mediaset proper, of which the bulk is held in trust to meet the requirements of Italy’s controversial TUSMAR media law preventing companies from simultaneously holding large stakes in media and telecom companies. Vivendi has retained a direct stake with voting rights of 9.9%.

To give it greater leverage, Vivendi, which has been in conflict with Mediaset over an aborted agreement between the pair since 2016, also acquired a small stake in Mediaset España at the end of last year.

Mediaset and Vivendi, which is adamantly opposed to the creation of MFE, have engaged in legal move and counter-move over the merger plan.

In March Mediaset withdrew its filing of the project in the Netherlands in the face of the threat of fresh legal action bythe French company, on the grounds that the merger plan filed by Mediaset on February 5 contained a new supplement that had not been presented to the shareholders of Mediaset or Mediaset España prior to their approval of the creation of the new MediaForEurope holding structure that will house both companies.

Mediaset also said it at the time that it would initiate its own legal action against Vivendi for what it claimed were “continuous attempts to delay the [MediaForEurope] project”.