Vivendi to appeal court ruling over Mediaset’s European plans

French media group Vivendi has said it will appeal a ruling from a Milan court rejecting its requests to suspend the resolutions adopted by Mediaset over its MediaForEurope (MFE) project.

The court ruling is the latest in what has become a lengthy battle between Vivendi and Mediaset dating back to when the former backed out of a deal to buy the latter’s pay-television unit in 2016.

The Italy-based commercial broadcaster said that the court’s decision confirms the validity of its vision.

In June, Mediaset announced the creation of MFE, owning stakes in leading European media groups, as part of its strategy to build a pan-European portfolio with access to major markets. Vivendi holds a 29-per-cent stake in Mediaset and is concerned the governance structure of the new entity would strengthen the hold of the Berlusconi family on the company.

While Mediaset welcomed yesterday’s (Monday’s) ruling, stating the MFE project “is confirmed and will proceed”, Vivendi has signalled its intention to maintain a battle against it, fought out on multiple fronts.

In a strongly-worded statement, Vivendi said: “The court, taking a decision in summary proceedings, limited itself to evaluating the consequences of a suspension of the merger process for both parties and concluded that the prejudice for Vivendi would not be irreparable to the extent that it could claim for damages.

“Vivendi is confident that recent judicial decisions and opinions, including from the Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in December 2019, will ultimately prove it right. Vivendi will continue to strongly defend its position by all legal means. A hearing at an Amsterdam Court will take place on February 10 and other actions in summary proceedings or on the merits of the case have already been, or will be, initiated in Italy and in Spain.

“Vivendi remains fully convinced that the Mediaset merger plan severely harms the interests of minority shareholders. It also continues to believe that the Mediaset board’s decision to repeatedly exclude certain minority shareholders from voting, relying on an interpretation of the Italian media law which has been severely challenged by the Advocate General of the CJEU, will ultimately be rejected in court.”

Mediaset faces a March deadline to gain full approval for its Dutch holding company for MFE, otherwise the decisions made by its September shareholders meeting will no longer be in-line with existing laws in the Netherlands.