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Fininvest and Vivendi face off over Italian broadcaster Mediaset


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Fininvest and Vivendi face off over Italian broadcaster Mediaset

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The battle for control of Italy’s biggest commercial broadcaster, Mediaset, is heating up.

The French TV, film, telecoms and videogame group Vivendi has increased its stake in Mediaset – but so too has its top shareholder Fininvest.

Vivendi now owns more than 12 percent of the shares – up from the three percent it held at the start of the week – and is aiming for 20 percent.

Fininvest meanwhile has said it is on track to buy almost 40 percent.

This has led to talk of a hostile takeover bid for Mediaset, which is controlled by the family of Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Mediaset shares continued to rise, having jumped 36 percent on Tuesday they are up more than 75 percent in just two weeks.

Merger mania

Merging telecoms and media companies is all the rage in order to bundle together communications, entertainment and utility services and fend off competition from the likes of Netflix and Amazon.

Vivendi recently built up a 24.8 percent stake in Telecom Italia.

On Tuesday Fininvest said it had filed a complaint with prosecutors in Milan and market regulator Consob against Vivendi, citing market manipulation, over the buying of Mediaset shares.

There is already bad blood between Vivendi and Mediaset after the French media group walked away from an earlier agreement to take control of the company’s pay-TV arm Mediaset Premium.

Mediaset is suing Vivendi for damages over the collapsed deal.

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