Mediaset plunges to loss after Vivendi's "serious damage"

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Italian media regulator Agcom has ruled that French media conglomerate Vivendi's expansion into Italy where it has built large stakes in both Telecom Italia and broadcaster Mediaset violates the country's anti-trust laws and given Vivendi one year to reduce its stake in one of the two companies.

But Giordani did not say whether the decision by the watchdog and its consequent request to Vivendi to cut its stake in either Mediaset or phone incumbent Telecom Italia (TLIT.MI) would favor the negotiation of a deal between the two groups.

If Vivendi doesn't comply with the resolution, it could be sanctioned under article 1, par.31 of Law 249/97 with a fine between 2% and 5% of its revenue.

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This might include an appeal to an Italian Regional Administrative Tribunal (TAR) and a formal complaint with the European Commission for violation of EU law, Vivendi said. It did not elaborate.

Agcom in December opened a probe into Vivendi's aggressive purchase of Mediaset shares after Fininvest, the holding company of the TV group controlled by former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, filed a complaint. That angered Berlusconi and raised concerns in Rome about Vivendi chairman Vincent Bollore's influence over corporate Italy.

In a brief statement Tuesday evening, Mediaset praised the ruling.

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Bollore is also a key shareholder in influential Italian investment bank Mediobanca MDBI.MI , which controls insurer Generali GASI.MI .

In relation to Mediaset, AGCOM said Vivendi's influence could be expressed through its voting rights, its potential to nominate its own representatives to the board and block any decisions of an extraordinary nature.

In July 2016 Vivendi pulled out of a 800-million euro contract that would give it full control of Premium, claiming the unit's business plan was unrealistic.

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