Vivendi-Mediaset battle heats up after Italy regulator crackdown

Italy ruling: Vivendi can't keep stakes in both TI, Mediaset

According to Agcom, in 2015, Vivendi's reached revenues in the electronic communication market higher than the 40% share and Sic revenues exceeding the quota of 10%, because of its shares in Mediaset and Telecom Italia. Vivendi must sell either stake within a year, and provide a plan of action within 60 days.

An ongoing battle between French media giant Vivendi and Italy's Mediaset heated up Wednesday after Italy's telecoms authority ruled the group led by Vincent Bollore violated an Italian law banning the excessive concentration of media properties in the hands of a single owner.

Vivendi released a statement on Tuesday saying that it "neither controls nor exercises a dominant influence on Mediaset" and said it was considering legal action.

Mediaset, founded by former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, is known primarily as Italy's largest commercial broadcaster, but also has a live entertainment ticketing arm, Taquilla Mediaset, closely linked with Ticketmaster.

The decision marks a victory for Mediaset which has been battling with Vivendi in court after the group chaired by billionaire Vincent Bolloré previous year pulled out of an $860 million deal to buy Mediaset's pay-TV unit and a few months later gained a almost 30% stake, and significant shareholder voting rights in Mediaset, with rapid fire share purchases.

In a separate set of recommendations for Vivendi shareholders, ISS said they should vote against the re-election of Bollore and the appointment of his son Yannick as company directors at Vivendi's annual general meeting on April 25, citing concerns about a lack of independence of the board.

Mediaset instead praised the ruling in a statement and said it was waiting to read it in full before deciding "future action".

Bollore is Vivendi's biggest shareholder with a 20.65 percent stake, and the billionaire has tightened his grip on the company's supervisory board since taking over as chairman in 2014 by cutting the number of independent members.

Vivendi also has a 24% holding in Telecom Italia, one of the country's biggest telecommunications companies.



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