Italian watchdog needs more time to review decision on Vivendi's stake in Mediaset - Metro US

Italian watchdog needs more time to review decision on Vivendi’s stake in Mediaset

FILE PHOTO: French media giant Vivendi logo in Paris

MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s communication watchdog AGCOM needs more time to complete a review of a decision it made forcing France’s Vivendi <VIV.PA> to forfeit most of its stake in Italy’s top commercial broadcaster Mediaset <MS.MI>, two sources said on Wednesday.

The Court of Justice of the European Union this month ruled that an Italian law which forced Vivendi <VIV.PA>, Mediaset’s second-biggest shareholder, to freeze most of its voting rights in the Italian group violated the bloc’s rules.

The EU court decision prompted AGCOM to start a review of its decision to curb Vivendi’s stake in Mediaset, which is controlled by the family of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Last week the authority asked the Italian state lawyer’s office for an opinion on the case which was then discussed during a meeting on Wednesday, sources said.

But the authority did not reach a conclusion yet as it needs more time to evaluate the opinion given the complexity of the case, the sources said, adding a decision could come as soon as next week.

In 2017 AGCOM ruled that Vivendi’s stakes in Mediaset and Italy’s biggest phone group Telecom Italia <TLIT.MI> broke rules designed to prevent a concentration of power in the telecoms and media sectors.

It ordered Vivendi to reduce one of its holdings to below 10%.

To comply with the Italian regulator’s request, Vivendi transferred two-thirds of its 29% stake in Mediaset into an arm’s-length trust, which has been barred from voting at the Italian broadcaster’s shareholder meetings.

(Reporting by Elvira Pollina; Editing by Keith Weir)

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