MILAN (Reuters) - French media group Vivendi has increased its stake in Telecom Italia to 22.8 percent, a regulatory filing showed, further strengthening its position as the top shareholder in the Italian phone group.
The filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, dated Feb. 19, said Vivendi bought shares equivalent to 1.4 percent of Telecom Italia's ordinary capital last week, both on the market and through off-market transactions.
The move comes as speculation mounts in the Italian press that Vivendi may be interested in the pay-TV arm of Mediaset, Italy's biggest private broadcaster, which is controlled by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Corriere della Sera reported on Saturday Vivendi had tabled an offer for Mediaset Premium as part of a plan to create the biggest media player in southern Europe, but disagreement over the unit's price has blocked a deal.
Reporting by Valentina Za, editing by Larry King