Stop for Mediaset and the Media for Europe (Mfe) project, the pan-European television holding company born in 2019. A stop that comes after the Madrid court ruling of 30 July regarding the appeal by Mediaset España, which de facto gave reason to Vivendi, the French giant led by Vincent Bolloré, critic of the operation. Today the board of directors of Mediaset, chaired by Fedele Confalonieri, took note of the decision and remarked that it will adapt, even if it does not share its conclusions. But if the game ends on one side, it opens on another. Mediaset will not stand by and will bring Bolloré to trial and is ready to raise.
When the Cologno Monzese television center purchased 9.6% of the German television group ProSiebenSat.1 in May 2019, the picture was clear. Create a media holding capable of competing in Europe. Not surprisingly, a few weeks later the merger by incorporation with the Iberian subsidiary was announced, in order to form Media for Europe, with registered office in the Netherlands, tax domicile in Italy and two operating offices, one in Cologno and one in Madrid. The original plan foresaw that every activity and participation would end up within the new entity, which through a special vote, capable of providing multiple voting rights, would lead Mfe under the direct control of Fininvest. An idea that does not satisfy the second member of the group, namely Vivendi, or Bolloré. The centralization of shareholdings is worrying, the transalpine murmurs. In September 2019 Mediaset tries to force the hand, approving the entire operation, being able to count on a finished vote 78% against 21%, against 62.52% of the capital. To arm the operation, Mediaset has an agreement with Peninsula Capital two weeks after the vote. However, this does not give up Bolloré, who brings the Cologno Monzese group to court, asking for a measure capable of preventing the execution of the merger that would lead to the birth of the MFE pole. The rest, the Madrid court decided a few days ago.
The impression, leaked people close to the dossier, is that the regret is great in Mediaset. The note issued in the margins of the board of directors (BoD), moreover, does not hide the group’s feelings. “The project complies with applicable law, respectful of shareholder rights – as stated by the Italian and Dutch courts – and aimed exclusively at pursuing the interests of Mediaset and all the shareholders who share its development”, says Cologno Monzese . Who collects the decision and accuses Bolloré: “The decision taken by the Madrid court is only a consequence of Vivendi’s instrumental and preordained opposition that acts in its own exclusive interest, also as a competitor of the Mediaset Group”. Hard words, which are the prelude to an immediate relaunch.
First, the legal battle does not end. Mediaset says it is ready to sue Vivendi for damages. And he says it clearly, also reviving the recent past. “It is clear that this interruption constitutes serious damage resulting from a prejudicial hostility of Vivendi which began to materialize immediately after the contractual breakup exercised by the French group in 2016 (Premium sale) with the subsequent attempt to climb against Mediaset”, stresses the Board. “A series of violations culminated today with the judicial initiatives that caused the blocking of the merger plan, extremely onerous violations that Vivendi will have to answer in court”, thunders Cologno Monzese. Bolloré’s response, certainly not tender to Mediaset in recent years, will not be long in coming.
In the meantime, however, interesting scenarios are opening up for the risk of European TV. While taking note of the sentence, the Confalonieri company points out that the game is not yet over. The study was launched for “a different execution of the original project that achieves the same objectives”. Does this mean that there may be new solutions, which may not involve Vivendi? Of this there is no certainty, but according to the well-informed, the impression is in Cologno Monzese they are thinking more insistently that the measure is full. There is a hand outstretched towards Bolloré, as the Italian group points out: “If Vivendi is really willing to negotiate on a concrete basis and oriented to the interests of all the shareholders, including those of the majority, Mediaset is ready to open a discussion table in to verify the new, positive approach “. Otherwise, the clash will end up in the courts again. And Mediaset will start looking beyond Paris to complete the Mfe project.