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Vivendi secures new Dutch court victory in battle with Mediaset

Vivendi has hammered another nail in the coffin of Mediaset’s plan to merge its Italian and Spanish arms under a Dutch-registered holding company by winning an appeal in the Netherlands that resulted in a further suspension the project in that jurisdiction.

The Dutch court ruling comes after Mediaset was forced to abandon its current merger plan as a result of a Spanish court ruling suspending it there. The Spanish ruling derailed the project’s timetable and forced Mediaset to abandon the plan, at least for now.

In relation to the latest reverse, Mediaset noted that the court had “accepted Vivendi’s appeal requesting the suspension of the cross-border merger project between Mediaset and Mediaset España”.

It said that the Dutch court had “requested changes to the plan’s layout which, in reality, for Mediaset was no longer feasible after the verdict of the Madrid Court of 30 July 2020”.

Mediaset has previously maintained that the merger still makes industrial sense and that its board was studying how to achieve the objectives of the merger plan, which would have established a single combined company called MediaForEurope (MFE), by other means.

In August, the Italian company rejected an overture by Vivendi to initiate peace talks, saying that the French media outfit had offered a mutual termination of pending legal cases brought by the pair against each other, but without offering any compensation.

Vivendi and Mediaset have been engaged in a long-running series of legal and regulatory battles since the French company unilaterally pulled out of a 2016 agreement that would have seen it acquire Mediaset’s struggling pay TV arm, Mediaset Premium and take a minority stake in Mediaset proper.

Mediaset instead went on to acauire a substantial stake in Mediaset in a series of moves that the Italian media company considered hostile. Vivendi was subsequently forced to place the major part of its holding in a trust to comply with a controversial Italian media law that forbade it from simultaneously holding stakes in Mediaset and Telecom Italia, in which it is the largest single shareholder.