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Mediaset rises on revived expansion plan and olive branch to Vivendi

Mediaset rises on revived expansion plan and olive branch to Vivendi

MILAN (Reuters) – Shares in Mediaset opened higher on Tuesday after the Italian broadcaster said it was reviving a project for international expansion while also seeking to appease second-biggest investor Vivendi.

The shares rose 1.1% in early trade, outperforming a flat Milan blue-chip index, after the company said late on Monday that it would ask shareholders on June 23 to approve moving the group’s legal headquarters to the Netherlands to make it easier to raise financing and pursue tie-ups with partners.

Opposition from Vivendi, which had fought the project in court, had forced Mediaset to shelve a similar plan to set up a Dutch holding company to support its European expansion strategy.

In an effort to ease tensions with Vivendi, Mediaset said it would ask shareholders on May 27 to scrap a loyalty share scheme that strengthened the position of its top investor, Italy’s Berlusconi family.

The scheme had been challenged in court by Vivendi, whose position has been boosted by a string of judicial rulings after a European Union court decision in its favour.

Most recently an Italian court on Friday voided the outcome of a shareholder meeting where Vivendi had been prevented from voting with its full 29% Mediaset stake.

Now that Vivendi has regained full voting rights on its stake, Mediaset needs the French group’s backing to push through the plan to move its legal base to the Netherlands.

Mediaset finance chief Marco Giordani on Tuesday told analysts that the relocation plan did not include a special voting system. Under the previous project, an enhanced voting system had been criticised by Vivendi because it further strengthened the Berlusconi family’s grip on the company.

Vivendi and Mediaset have been at loggerheads since a failed pay-TV deal in 2016. Two people close to the matter on Monday told Reuters the groups were making a fresh attempt to resolve their dispute.

(Reporting by Elvira Pollina; Writing by Valentina Za; Editing by David Goodman)

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