Vivendi looks to increase Mediaset stake

James Pearce
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French media firm currently owns a 20% share in Mediaset, but will look to up this stake to 30%, according to reports

Vivendi has unveiled plans to increase its stake in Mediaset, as it eyes a potential takeover bid of the Italian media firm controlled by former president Silvio Berlusconi.

The French media conglomerate, which owns a 24% stake in Telecom Italia, recently raised its stake first to 3% then to 20% last week, at a cost of around $860 million.

Berlusconi’s son Pier Silvio, who himself recently raised his shareholding in the company, from 35% to 39.8%, held a meeting with Vivendi chief Arnaud de Puyfontaine on Friday, according to a statement by the French company.

The latest announcement comes just days after Fininvest, the holding company which looks after the Berlusconi family’s stake, accused Vivendi of market manipulation. Fininvest called on market regulator Consob to investigate alleged abuse of information, and to intervene in the conflict.

The two companies have been locked in a legal battle following the collapse of an April partnership deal that gave Vivendi control of Mediaset’s pay TV operation. Mediaset has also launched a criminal complaint in the French courts.

In a statement, Fininvest said that “Vivendi continues with a very aggressive strategy”, according to the Wall Street Journal, and this confirms the irregularities set out by the Italian company, it claims.