MILAN (Reuters) – An Italian court ruled in favour of a petition filed by French media giant Vivendi <VIV.PA> to vote against Mediaset’s <MS.MI> reorganisation plan, the two companies said on Saturday, though the decision will not be enough to scupper the deal.
Vivendi has been a hostile Mediaset shareholder since the tycoons who control them, Vincent Bollore and former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, fell out in 2016 over an aborted pay TV deal. They have been in a legal war ever since.
The ruling only applies to the 9.6% stake Vivendi directly holds in Mediaset, as two-thirds of the French group’s 29% total stake is currently held by an arms-length trust called Simon Fiduciaria, which has been so far barred from voting by an Italian court.
That leaves the French group with 9.99% direct voting rights.
Mediaset said in a statement on Saturday it was satisfied with the decision of the Milan’s court.
It added that the ruling explicitly barred Simon Fiduciaria to take part to Mediaset’s Sept. 4 meeting, where its shareholders will be asked to approve the creation of a new Dutch holding company, dubbed Media for Europe (MFE), which will carry out a reverse takeover of Mediaset and Mediaset Espana <TL5.MC>.
Simon Fiduciaria has registered to vote at Mediaset’s Sept. 4 shareholders’ meeting, a source said on Friday.
The trust was not immediately available for comment.
Vivendi said in a statement it welcomed the decision of the Milan court and confirmed its intention to vote against the proposed merger of Mediaset into MFE.
Vivendi said it wanted to vote against Mediaset’s plan because a bylaw of the new MFE holding company would exclude it from voting at shareholder meetings of the new entity.
(Reporting by Elvira Pollina; Writing by Giulio Piovaccari; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Stephen Powell)