Dialing up a TV deal

Telecom Italia subsid pacts for TMC control

MILAN — Telecom Italia subsidiary Seat Pagine Gialle is set to ink an accord with film and TV tycoon Vittorio Cecchi Gori for his debt-ridden broadcaster TeleMontecarlo (TMC) after weeks of legal hurdles and behind-the-scenes disputes.

The deal leaves the financial terms of the sale nearly unchanged but Seat will acquire a minority stake in Cecchi Gori’s film production, distribution and exhibition holding Finmavi, according to Wednesday’s news daily Il Sole24Ore.

Cecchi Gori will keep 15%-20% of TMC while Seat will get a 20% stake in Finmavi. The final agreement is expected to be announced within a few days.

Seat’s $360 million cash-and-shares bid for a 75% stake in TMC, which operates two channels, has been beset by difficulties since it was launched in August.Italy’s Telecommunications Authority, regional administrative courts and Parliament are mulling whether the deal violates antitrust regulations, but are expected to greenlight the bid soon. Cecchi Gori tried to renegotiate the price and the terms of the sale claiming that since the deal was announced in August, Seat shares have lost more than half their value, reducing the worth of the final payment.

According to sources, Cecchi Gori finally agreed to keep the terms more or less unchanged after new debt emerged in TMC’s account.

But he succeeded in convincing Seat put capital into Finmavi, which controls the group’s film activities, including its huge library that could be used by Seat’s Internet services.

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