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Barclays doubles Mediaset stake

British bank owns 5% of shares

MILAN — British bank Barclays has more than doubled its stake in Mediaset, the broadcaster controlled by Italo Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

By raising its stake in the group to just over 5%, the Blighty finance house is now the second largest shareholder after Berlusconi’s holding company Fininvest, which has a 40% chunk.

News of the purchase, which took place on July 17, was only released on Monday. As a result of the delay, Barclays faces a fine from the Italo financial watchdog Consob.

But the markets approved of the acquisition, with Mediaset’s share price up 3% in an afternoon.

So far this year, Mediaset shares have crashed from Euros 7 ($8.76) to Euros 4 ($5). But most of the fall occurred before this month’s mega-crash.

Analysts have told Variety that TV advertising is likely to weather the financial storm better than ads in other media, and they predicted that Mediaset shares were unlikely to fall much lower.