By Stuart Thomson
Mediaset has moved swiftly to state that there is no last-minute resolution in sight to its ongoing legal battle with its largest external shareholder Vivendi, after CFO Marco Giordani said in an interview that the best solution would be to find an agreement with the French media giant.
Giordani’s comments and Mediaset’s clarification come as a Milanese court is expected to rule in the coming days on the lawsuit Mediaset launched over Vivendi’s refusal to honour a 2016 agreement between the pair that would have seen it take over the Italian company’s pay TV arm, Mediaset Premium.
Mediaset is seeking €3 billion(US$3.59billion) in damages as a result of Vivendi’s abandonment of its commitment to purchase the pay TV unit.
Giordani told that if the pair could find room for agreement this would be the best outcome. He said that Vivendi and Mediaset were not particularly well-aligned for partnership because Mediaset’s focus was on free-to-view TV and Vivendi was more focused on pay TV, but that he didn’t exclude a deal.
Mediaset followed up with a statement to the effect that there was no resolution in the works, but that, as ever, it wasn’t foreclosing the possibility of a solution that would be “in the positive interest of all shareholders”.
In a separate but related case, Vivendi boss Vincent Bolloré and Vivendi CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine have reportedly declined to take up an invitation to testify in a case that has seen the Milan prosecutor accuse them of market manipulation in order to acquire Mediaset shares at a knockdown price. The pair will be represented by a lawyer instead.
Mediaset has alleged that Vivendi acted deliberately to drive down Mediaset’s share price with the specific intention of acquiring stock in the company. Vivendi holds a 29 per cent stake in the Italian media group.