×

Vivendi Snaps Up 12% of Mediaset, Sparking Takeover Attempt Speculation

ROME – French Media conglomerate Vivendi on Tuesday became the second-largest shareholder in Italian broadcaster Mediaset by rapidly buying more than 12% of its shares after saying it intends to build that up to as much as 20%.

The surprise move is sparking speculation of a hostile takeover attempt just as the two companies are sparring in court over a partnership agreement they signed in April which went sour.

Vivendi on Tuesday morning first revealed the acquisition of 3% of Mediaset, then later in the day said it had raised its stake to 12.3%.

Mediaset shares on Tuesday jumped as much as 36%, their biggest one-day gain ever, prompting a temporary suspension of trading.

Mediaset’s top shareholder, Fininvest, said Tuesday that it had filed a complaint with Italian authorities and with market regulator Consob, alleging market manipulation.

Mediaset is calling Vivendi’s decision to buy more of its shares a hostile takeover attempt following the 30% dive in its share price following the French company’s decision to pull out of the partnership deal.

The deal would have seen each of the two companies take a 3.5% stake in the other; in addition, Vivendi would have acquired Mediaset’s pay-TV business, Mediaset Premium. But in July, Vivendi essentially withdrew from the deal, which has resulted in escalating tensions.

Mediaset, which is controlled by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his family, alleged breach of contract and claimed at least 1.5 billion euros ($1.6 billion) in damages if the deal collapsed, plus an estimated at 50 million euros ($56.6 million) per month – stemming from the drop in share price – for every month of its delay starting from July 25.

Vivendi is now the second shareholder in Mediaset after Fininvest, which holds just under a 35% stake.

For Fininvest, “buying more Mediaset shares to reach control, with 51%, would be difficult, given that they are not flush with cash,” an Italian analyst noted on Tuesday.

Vivendi in a statement on Monday said that “becoming a Mediaset shareholder is…in line with the group’s intention to develop its activities in Southern Europe and its strategic ambitions as a major international, European-based, media and content group.”

The Vivendi statement noted that it believes that that the strategic interests of the partnership announced in April “supersede the stakes of the lawsuit.”

Vivendi Chairman Vincent Bollore (pictured) is known as a corporate raider. He controls Vivendi with a 20.4% stake. Vivendi controls Telecom Italia in Italy with 24.9%, just below the 25% threshold that would force it to launch a takeover bid. Vivendi is also currently in the midst of an attempted hostile takeover of Videogames company Ubisoft, in which it now holds a more than 25% stake.

Mediaset has announced it will do everything it can to block what it describes as Vivendi’s takeover moves.

A Mediaset statement issued Monday evening said that “Mediaset’s first preoccupation at this time is to protect the interests of all its shareholders, to continue legal action [against Vivendi], now updated after these new developments, and to evaluate the real goal of these generic French moves and how they fit within Mediaset’s strategy,”

It added that it would work with two Italian banks, Intesa Sanpaolo and Unicredit, to fight back.

More TV

  • Rihanna

    Rihanna Pleads for Equality at NAACP Image Awards: 'Tell Your Friends to Pull Up'

    Rihanna was the recipient of the NAACP President’s Award. The honor is bestowed on an entertainer whose commitment to philanthropy is unparalleled. Rihanna, whose chosen charities include the Clara Lionel Foundation, Raising Malawi and UNICEF and was honored as Harvard’s Humanitarian of the Year in 2017, was in attendance for the NAACP Image Awards show, [...]

  • Bernie Sanders, Jane Sanders. Democratic presidential

    Bernie Sanders Projected to Win Nevada Democratic Caucus

    Bernie Sanders is now projected to win the Nevada caucus. Per the Associated Press, Sanders has captured 54% of the delegates with 4% of precincts reporting on Saturday afternoon. Joe Biden is currently in a distant second with 17.8%, while Elizabeth Warren rose to third with 10%. Pete Buttigieg is in fourth place with 8.7%, [...]

  • Lizzo51st Annual NAACP Image Awards, Arrivals,

    NAACP Winners 2020: The Complete List

    The 51st annual NAACP Awards took place Saturday night in Los Angeles with Lizzo being named Entertainer of the Year. Warner Bros.’ legal drama “Just Mercy” nearly swept the top film awards, taking home best motion picture, ensemble, best actor (Michael B. Jordan) and supporting actor (Jamie Foxx). Lupita N’yongo won the best actress prize [...]

  • Leonine Takes International Rights to Premium

    Leonine Takes International Rights to Premium Series 'Herzogpark'

    German media group Leonine has taken international distribution rights to the six-part premium series “Herzogpark,” following a deal with its producers Letterbox Filmproduktion (“Bad Banks”). The rights for German-speaking territories are held by Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland. The dramedy centers on four women from Munich’s upscale Herzogpark district, for whom keeping secrets has become a life’s [...]

  • Luna Nera Netflix Italy

    Italy's Women Filmmakers Set to Make Waves

    The Berlinale in recent years has been a prime launching pad for Italian films directed by women, which though fewer in number to their male counterparts, make up a considerable portion of the country’s representation on the festival circuit — Alice Rohrwacher (“Happy as Lazzaro”) at Cannes, Susanna Nicchiarelli (“Nico”) at Venice, and Berlin regular [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content