Murdoch chats with Mediaset

TV giants talking Euro alliance

MILAN — News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch reportedly met Wednesday with top execs at Italian broadcaster Mediaset to further a much-talked-about European television alliance.

Murdoch met over lunch with Mediaset chairman Fedele Confalonieri and with Ubaldo Livolsi, the managing director of Mediaset’s parent company Fininvest, according to Italian newspaper reports Wednesday. The Aussie-born tycoon did not visit Mediaset founder and majority holder Silvio Berlusconi.

Instead, he met with Berlusconi’s two children, Marina and Piersilvio. Marina, the elder, is vice president of Fininvest, and Piersilvio is programming schedule coordinator.

“Murdoch visited Mediaset to exchange views and discuss a European television alliance,” the source said.

The source said no further meetings were planned, but could not confirm when Murdoch was leaving Italy.

An attempt last year by Berlusconi to sell Murdoch a stake in Mediaset went for naught.

Mediaset shares rallied on news of the meeting to end 6% higher Wednesday.

Mediaset has been in ongoing talks with Germany’s Kirch Group over forging a strategic alliance that would further Mediaset’s Euro ambitions while providing Kirch, which is under financial pressure, with a fresh injection of cash.

Italian newspapers reported earlier this month that Murdoch and Berlusconi wanted to take a 20% stake each in the Kirch Group. Murdoch, whose media power in Europe is concentrated in the U.K., has long wanted to expand his interests on the Continent.

(Reuters contributed to this report.)

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