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Vivendi strikes new court victory against Mediaset's Dutch plan

MILAN/AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Vivendi VIV.PA has won an appeal in an Amsterdam court against a plan by Italy's top commercial broadcaster Mediaset to fold its domestic and Spanish businesses into a Dutch holding company, a court document showed on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: French media giant Vivendi's logo is pictured at the main entrance of the entertainment-to-telecoms conglomerate headquarters in Paris, France, August 12, 2020. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Mediaset MS.MI, controlled by the family of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, wanted to use MediaforEurope to establish tie-ups in Europe to tackle competition from streaming services such as Netflix NFLX.O

But Vivendi, Mediaset’s second largest shareholder, opposed the project in courts across Europe, saying the governance structure of the new entity, including a loyalty share scheme, would give the Berlusconis too much power.

Tuesday’s decision is another blow to Mediaset’s project after a Madrid court confirmed a suspension of the planned corporate overhaul in July.

Vivendi, led by French billionaire Vincent Bollore, is “very pleased” with the decision which it believed to be “in the interest of all of Mediaset’s shareholders”, a spokesman said.

Mediaset declined to comment.

Last month, following the Madrid court decision, the Italian broadcaster decided to withdraw its merger plan, saying its strategy remained valid and that would stick to its ambitions through “new ways”.

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The row between Mediaset and Vivendi started after the French media group pulled out of a deal to buy Mediaset’s pay-TV business in 2016, instead building up a 29% stake in Mediaset which the Italian group considered hostile.

A legal case has been ongoing since, while attempts to clinch a wider settlement have so far proved unsuccessful.

Vivendi wrote to Mediaset after last month’s court ruling saying it was ready to support the Italian broadcaster in its cross-border growth strategy, provided it included a governance structure to protect minority shareholders.

Mediaset said it was available to discuss a possible deal with Vivendi, but it would not forego compensation.

Editing by Alexander Smith

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