Marina’s big plans

Fininvest expansion will go on, Berlusconi sez

MONTE CARLO — One year after her first public appearance as Fininvest VP, Marina Berlusconi told the annual gathering of the company’s ad sales unit, Publitalia, about continuing plans for its growth.

Marina, 33, the eldest child of media mogul Silvio Berlusconi, said that the three priorities for 2000 will be strengthening Publitalia in Italy, where Fininvest will focus on its core media businesses; developing Internet activities, with the imminent launch of a Silicon Valley-based venture capital fund called Euro Media Ventures and a European portal; and continuing the group international reach.

More expansion

“Mediaset already has an international alliance; now other companies in the Fininvest group will have to expand in Europe,” she said, alluding, in particular, to publishing house Mondadori.

Mediaset is the TV company controlled by the Berlusconi family. Last spring it forged a strategic Euro alliance with Germany’s Kirch Group spanning production, advertising and broadcasting.

“We believe the Euro alliance will be very positive in terms of costs and revenues, because together with Kirch we will buy and produce programming at lower cost and we will sell our products at higher prices because their quality will increase,” she said.

“Recent rumors about a deal with Rupert Murdoch for the sale of a stake in Mediaset are totally groundless, because our company has never been and is not for sale.” But, she said, the false rumors please her in that “they confirm our success.”

Alliance opening for biz

Talking about the much ballyhooed Kirch-Mediaset alliance, Mediaset CEO Maurizio Carlotti said that the operating phase is imminent. “We have the name of the new venture and we have the logo, which we’ll announce in Cannes at the upcoming Mipcom.”

The Euro Commission is expected to give its final approval to the venture by the end of this month.

In September, Mediaset created a Luxembourg-based company, temporary named Euroset Television, which will soon become the holding company of the Euro alliance.

The board of the holding company will include Carlotti and Giuliano Adreani, Kirch managing director Jan Mojto and Kirch’s Dieter Hahn.