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Vivendi chief: no resolution in sight to Mediaset conflict

Arnaud de Puyfontaine

Arnaud de Puyfontaine

Attempts to find a resolution to the battle between Vivendi and Mediaset have so far failed, according to the French media giant’s CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine, speaking to the Financial Times.

Despite press speculation in recent weeks that a new deal was in the offing, there has been no discussion between the pair since July last year, with the exception of a single meeting between De Puyfontaine and Pier Silvio Berlusconi in December, according to the FT, citing an unnamed source.

Despite no deal currently being in sight, De Puyfontaine told the FT that Vivendi remained committed to expanding its presence in the Italian market and southern Europe generally. He said Vivendi did not intend to sell of its 24.9% stake in Telecom Italia, which Vivendi says is part of its core strategy of forging close partnerships with telecom operators.

De Puyfontaine has previously said that Vivendi remains open to a deal with the Italian broadcaster amid reports that the media group would be willing to restart talks if Mediaset dropped its legal action against it. Speaking after Vivendi’s end of year results were published in February, he told analysts that the company was “still willing to build a strong industrial relationship with this company” which fitted with Vivendi’s southern European strategy.

More recently, he told attendees at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that he was hopeful that a deal with Mediaset is still possible.

“We are creating a new story for Telecom Italia and [we want to] build a southern European player with Mediaset. We will find a solution and make it work. I’m pretty sure about that,” De Puyfontaine said at MWC.

De Puyfontaine told the FT that Mediaset provided “misleading” information to Vivendi during the pair’s negotiations over the future of the Italian broadcaster’s pay TV unit last year.

He reiterated that Vivendi had pulled out of the April agreement that would have seen Vivendi take over Mediaset Premium and Vivendi and Mediaset take 3.5% stakes in each other because it was “not happy” about a gap between “the nature of the information provided to us” and the true financial situation of the pay TV unit.

Vivendi’s account has been disputed by Mediaset, which said that the April deal followed a month of due diligence.

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