Media tycoon running for Italian prime minister

In an interview with the Financial Times Monday, Silvio Berlusconi said he was considering at least one concession to squelch longtime accusations of a conflict of interest between his business and political interests: The TV tycoon turned politico is considering plans to float 30% of Fininvest after next spring’s election.

Berlusconi is hoping to ride to victory as prime minister at the head of the center-right Forza Italia coalition in next April’s general election.

“I’ll be talking to my son and daughter about (the concession) around the Christmas tree,” he told the British paper.

An unlisted company, Fininvest indirectly controls Italy’s three main commercial TV stations and Mondadori, the country’s biggest publishing house. Because of this media muscle, Berlusconi exercises almost unrivaled influence over the industries that sway the opinions of 60 million Italians.

Berlusconi has long maintained that he operates at arm’s length from his commercial interests. “I have an excellent group of managers and a son and daughter who are interested in the business,” he told the FT.

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