France’s Vivendi Denies Merger Talks with Orange

Vivendi

UPDATE: Mediaset Files Lawsuit Against Vivendi

Fininvest, majority stakeholders in Mediaset, filed a criminal complaint of market manipulation against Vivendi after the company announced they had acquired a 20% position.

Vivendi has spent the last six months building up a 20% stake in Mediaset, at a cost of $836 million, after the the two companies failed to agree on Mediaset’s PayTV unit Premium.

When Vivendi’s CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine was asked why the deal with Premium failed he said, “it’s as if they had invited us to dinner at a 3-star restaurant and then we found ourselves at McDonald’s.”

Vivendi, headed by French billionaire Vincent Bollore is already the largest shareholder in Italy’s top telecom company, Telecom Italia.

Market Manipulation

French media giant, Vivendi, announced that the company had secretly acquired a 3% share in Mediaset, with a goal to add up to 20%.

The share price of Mediaset skyrocketed 36% in intraday trading before the stock was automatically suspended after the sharp rise.

Mediaset’s largest shareholder, Fininvest, filed a complaint with prosecutors in Milan and with market regulator CONSOB against Vivendi citing market manipulation.

Hostile Takeover

Representatives from Vivendi state that the company is not currently planning to make an unsolicited offer (also known as a hostile takeover) for Mediaset.

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The rep said, “Vivendi prefers to go with a soft approach for now, but if there is no way to discuss, we’ll have to reassess at this point.”

Vivendi said it would buy as much as 20% to become the second largest shareholder in order to expand operations in Southern Europe.

Legal Wrangling

Vivendi and Mediaset (owned by the Berlusconi family) are already locked in legal proceedings after Vivendi walked away from talks to acquire Mediaset’s Premium pay-TV service.

France’s Vivendi Denies Merger Talks with Orange

Over the weekend, Vivendi executives denied that the media conglomerate was discussing a tie-up with telecom giant Orange.

However, representatives from both companies were in closed-door sessions considering the future of Vivendi’s pay-TV unit Canal Plus saying, “if talks are taking place, it’s between Orange and Canal Plus.”