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Wed, 29 Jan 2020 18:00 GMT

Europe's Wealthiest Dynasties in Media Control Battle

Media & Culture

Roberto Tumbarello

Thu, 29 Aug 2019 14:44 GMT

Vincent Bolloré, 67, is opposing the merger of the Berlusconi group with Spanish Mediaset. "Vivendi", the French financial group that belongs to its family, does not approve the Mediaset move to the Netherlands the project of which it owns 28.2% of the shares. Bolloré, himself an entrepreneur and media tycoon is also set against the merger between Spanish Mediaset and the creation of Media for Europe, something of this magnitude never achieved before in Italy.  

The Berlusconi group is accusing the French shareholder of unlawful conduct, so much so that they excluded him from voting at the April Board meeting. With a view to the next meeting set for early September, Vivendi turned to the Milan court with an urgent appeal to protect its right to vote. 

Bolloré is expecting the decision of the Italian judiciary in a particularly delicate matter. All this comes at a critical moment in Italian politics, given the crisis of government incited by Matteo Salvini, 46, leader of the League and Minister of the Interior, with the distrust of the premier Giuseppe Conte, 55, and the push for new elections, that also Silvio Berlusconi, 82, president of the center-right party "Forza Italia", urges. 

There is currently no supervisory system, as Agcom's mandate for communications warranties expired at the end of July, and is yet to renew them due to the lack of political agreement between the League and the M5S (Five Stars movement). 

According to Bolloré the statute proposed by the Berlusconi family for Mediaset penalises small shareholders who ask, precisely, that the Court protect their legitimate voting rights. In the meeting of September, Bolloré will seek the alliance of other minority shareholders in order to reject the Mediaset project. 

The Berlusconi Group – as stated in a note released on August 22 from Cologno Monzese (Milan), the headquarters of Fininvest – accuses Vivendi of manipulating the stock market, filtering out unconfirmed news with the aim of discrediting the cross-border merger and preventing its actualisation. The statement concludes by highlighting the damage suffered by the shareholders of Mediaset and the Spanish partner due to the unlawful conduct that conditioned, with rumors induced artfully, the performance of the stock on the stock exchange. 

Vivendi now hopes for a provision in the judiciary which, without any margin of discretion for Mediaset, will allow the attempt to boycott the European television center, which, with the German participation of the Prosiebensat, would significantly strengthen the international holding company formed by Italian Fininvest and Spanish Mediaset. 

Vincent Bolloré, son of a Breton industrialist, owns a fortune of seven billion dollars and occupies the ninth place in the ranking of the richest Frenchman. In Italy he is also a shareholder of Mediobanca, Telecom and Mediaset Premium. While Berlusconi is in fifth place in Italy with 6.3 billion. 

A longtime friend of former President Sarkozy, Bolloré, who had four children by his first wife and is now in his second marriage, was the protagonist of legal proceedings related to his financial activity. In April last year he was arrested for 36 hours in Nanterre by judges who accuse him of bribing a foreign public official for his activities in African countries adopting the CFA franc. 

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