Murdoch and Mediaset makes sense to prince

Dual stock holder would welcome alliance, denies rumors

MILAN — Saudi Prince al Waleed Ben Talal, whose holdings include a 2.6% stake in Italy’s Mediaset and 2% in News Corp., said he would welcome global media baron Rupert Murdoch as an ally of Silvio Berlusconi’s TV group Mediaset.

“Mediaset is still too concentrated on the Italian market. It needs to grow and expand its activities outside Italy and an alliance with Murdoch would make sense,” the Saudi Prince told Italian weekly magazine Il Mondo last week.

In the past few weeks, rumors have circulated about the sale of a stake in Italy’s largest commercial TV group to Murdoch.

Mediaset execs confirmed the talks between the two groups but said they were about an industrial and commercial alliance, including the co-production of programs.

Al Waleed denied he has been a go-between for the two media tycoons. “At this point they don’t need my help,” he said. “I do believe that Mediaset and Murdoch together could do many interesting things in several sectors, including media, telcos and satellites.”

Al Waleed, a member of the Saudi royal family and one of the richest men in his country, controls 30% of satellite TV broadcaster Arab Radio Television (ART) and 24% of Euro Disney, not to mention stakes in U.S. banking group Citicorp and several hotel groups.

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