Italy’s Mediaset shares rise on prospect of truce with Vivendi

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FILE PHOTO: The Mediaset tower is seen in Cologno Monzese neighbourhood Milan

ROME (Reuters) – Shares in Mediaset rose sharply on Wednesday amid signs Italy’s top commercial broadcaster could be moving closer to ending years of legal sparring with France’s Vivendi.

Mediaset and its second-biggest investor Vivendi have been at loggerheads since 2016, when the French media group walked away from a pay-TV deal and then built a 29% stake in Mediaset which the Milanese group considers illegitimate.

The two groups are working to reach an accord, two sources close to the matter told Reuters on Wednesday, after MF daily reported a compromise deal to end the legal war was only “a step away.”

The paper, without citing sources, said the French group would have five years to sell its Mediaset stake as part of the deal.

Mediaset and Vivendi declined to comment.

Following a string of court rulings in its favour, Vivendi has regained full voting rights for its stake, and its backing is now essential for Mediaset to push through a revamped overseas expansion plan it unveiled on Monday.

Vivendi has succeeded in the past in blocking in court a similar project, which entails moving Mediaset’s legal base to the Netherlands.

In a bid to mend relations, the broadcaster controlled by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Monday it would drop a loyalty share scheme that would strengthen the Berlusconi family’s grip on the group.

On Wednesday, broker Kepler Cheuvreux and Barclays both raised their target price on Mediaset and traders said the prospect of a deal was driving shares higher.

At 0840 GMT, the shares were up 5.9% against a 0.3% drop in Italy’s all-share index.

(Reporting by Elvira Pollina and Maria Pia Quaglia. Writing by Giulia Segreti. Editing by Valentina Za and Mark Potter)

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