Me­di­aset, Vivendi seek com­pro­mise to re­vive growth

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE - MI­LAN -AFP

Me­di­aset and its sec­ond largest in­vestor Vivendi are work­ing on a po­ten­tial deal to end a long-run­ning le­gal row and re­vive the Ital­ian broad­caster's Euro­pean growth strat­egy, two sources close to the mat­ter said.

Con­trolled by the fam­ily of for­mer Ital­ian prime min­is­ter Sil­vio Ber­lus­coni, Me­di­aset had been tar­get­ing ex­pan­sion in Europe to cope with stiffer com­pe­ti­tion in the in­dus­try from stream­ing ser­vices such as Net­flix

But Vivendi's op­po­si­tion has forced

Me­di­aset to freeze plans to cre­ate a Dutch hold­ing com­pany to pur­sue al­liances in Europe. The two groups have been locked in a fight since 2016 when Vivendi ditched an ac­cord to buy Me­di­aset's payTV unit and built a 29% stake which Me­di­aset con­sid­ers hos­tile. In a bid to break the stale­mate, the heads of the two groups re­sumed con­tacts this month.

The two sources said the groups were look­ing at ways to re­launch Me­di­aset's pan-Euro­pean TV project, which the Mi­lanese broad­caster con­sid­ers vi­tal, with Vivendi's back­ing. A so­lu­tion is not yet in sight and the un­cer­tainty cre­ated by the pan­demic com­pli­cates mat­ters, the sources said.

In the mean­time, the le­gal dis­pute trig­gered by the col­lapsed pay-TV deal rum­bles on and a closed-door hear­ing took place in Mi­lan on Tues­day. A rul­ing is not ex­pected be­fore next year, giv­ing the par­ties time to seek a com­pro­mise. One of the sources said Me­di­aset may con­sider drop­ping its multi-bil­lion euro dam­ages claims if a so­lu­tion emerged that fos­tered the group's de­vel­op­ment.

Me­di­aset had planned to fold its do­mes­tic and Span­ish busi­nesses into the Dutch ve­hi­cle, and even­tu­ally also add its 24.2% stake in Ger­many's ProSiebenS­at.1.

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