Vivendi and Mediaset are reported to be closing in on an agreement that could see the French media giant sell part of its stake in Mediaset, though uncertainty remains over whether a deal will be struck.
Reuters reported yesterday that the two sides were close to a deal that would see Vivendi sell the 19.19% stake it holds in Mediaset indirectly through Simon Fiduciaria for a compromise price of around €3 ($3.30) a share.
That includes interest payments and a dividend that Mediaset has already said it will pay to shareholders in MediaForEurope, the Dutch-registered holding company it plans to set up to house the merger of its Italian and Spanish broadcast operations.
A source close to the situation told TBI sister publication Digital TV Europe that there was an expectation that an announcement will be made today. It is believed that Vivendi had previously signalled that it was open to selling the part of its stake held through Simon Fiduciaria at €3.25 a share, which would be half-way between the original buying price of the shares and the withdrawal price proposed by Mediaset as part of the plan to create MediaFor Europe.
A sale would leave Vivendi with a stake of just under 10% in the Italian broadcaster.
The negotiations could cover the renunciation of civil legal action filed by Mediaset against Vivendi, possibly excepting its case against Vivendi-owned Dailymotion for illegal retransmission of rights-protected content.
It its believed that a deal could also include some sort of agreement that restricts Vivendi’s ability to buy into MediaForEurope for five years.
The two companies have been seeking to strike an agreement ahead of a postponed court hearing in Milan due to take place today, which has this morning reportedly been postponed from 12:30 to 15:30 CET.
Last month, Vivendi secured a victory in a Spanish court that put the MediaForEurope plan on hold. The French media group has said that current proposed rules covering the governance of for MediaForEurope would have a deleterious impact on governance and the treatment of minority shareholders.
Mediaset has called an EGM of shareholders on January 10 to consider proposed changes to the articles of association of the new group, and of its special voting shares. Vivendi had objected to these on the grounds that they were prejudicial to the interests of minority shareholders
The two companies have been at loggerheads since 2016, when Vivendi pulled out of an agreement to purchase Mediaset’s pay TV arm and invest in the broadcaster as part of a wider strategic partnership.