By Stuart Thomson
Vivendi has filed a fresh appeal with the Lazio regional administrative tribunal (TAR) in Italy to overturn regulator AGCOM’s ruling that its ownership stake in Mediaset is in breach of the country’s controversial TUSMAR law against holding simultaneous stakes in media and telecom companies.
Mediaset issued a communication that it had received notice that Vivendi had introduced new reasons why the law should not be applied as part of its existing appeal against AGCOM.
Vivendi has called on the court to “confirm the cessation of the measures of compliance with resolution no. 178/17/CONS”, in which AGCOM found that the French media giant’s presence as the largest shareholder in Telecom Italia and holder of a significant stake in Mediaset meant that it had to choose between the two.
To comply with the ruling, Vivendi transferred the bulk of its stake in Mediaset into a trust, Simon Fiduciaria, which has been barred from voting in Mediaset’s shareholder meetings, including, most recently, the meeting held last month.
Vivendi, which has been seeking to use its voting rights to stymie Mediaset’s plans to merge its Italian and Spanish arms under the aegis of Dutch registered holding company MediaForEurope, has consistently argued that TUSMAR law is in breach of European regulations.
The media company has cited advices given to the European Commission stating that the ruling, which holds that companies with large stakes in media and telecom organisation s must reduce one of those stakes to under 10 per cent – violates EU rules on freedom of capital movement and freedom to carry out business activities anywhere in the EU.
The latest legal move in Italy is part of a long-running battle waged by Vivendi to stop the MediaForEurope plan in its tracks.
Most recently, Vivendi challenged changes to the merger plan adopted by Mediaset España’s EGM in March.