Vivendi targets 20 percent stake in Italian broadcaster Mediaset | Reuters

 Vivendi targets 20 percent stake in Italian broadcaster Mediaset
| Reuters

PARIS French media giant Vivendi (VIV.PA) said on Monday it could buy as much as 20 percent of Mediaset (MS.MI) after purchasing just over 3 percent of the Italian broadcaster's capital as part of its efforts to expand into southern Europe.Buying into Mediaset represents a key part of the strategy laid out by billionaire Vincent Bollore, Vivendi's chairman and biggest shareholder, who has pledged to transform the French company into an integrated European media powerhouse.Mediaset, which is controlled by the family of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, was not immediately available for comment."Vivendi intends to carry on its purchase of shares in Mediaset, depending on market conditions, to become, if possible, the second industrial shareholder in Mediaset, which to begin with could represent 10 to 20 percent of Mediaset's capital," Vivendi said in a statement.

The two companies have officially been at odds since Vivendi said in July it was backing out of an agreement that would have given it control of Mediaset's pay-TV division Premium and handed the two firms 3.5 percent stakes in each other.Vivendi said in October it was no longer keen on finding an amicable solution to the dispute following several accusatory statements by Mediaset, which recently asked a court to order the seizure of a 3.5 percent stake in Vivendi.

"Given that the strategic industrial partnership ... goes beyond what's at stake in this dispute, Vivendi announces that it has gone over the 3 percent threshold in Mediaset's capital and now holds 3.01 percent," it said, adding that the move was consistent with its strategy to expand into southern Europe.

Vivendi is already the top shareholder at phone group Telecom Italia (TLIT.MI) with a stake of about 24 percent. (Reporting by John Irish; additional reporting by Stephen Jewkes in Milan; editing by David Clarke)

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Updated Date: Dec 13, 2016 01:45:07 IST