(Adds news of death of RCS shareholder Rotelli, comments)
MILAN, June 28 Italian carmaker Fiat said on Friday it will almost double its stake in RCS Mediagroup , the publisher of influential Italian daily Corriere della Sera, to 20.1 percent after a capital increase that ends next week.
The same day, Italian businessman Giuseppe Rotelli, owner of a 16.6 percent stake in RCS, died at the age of 68, adding to uncertainty about the balance of power at the publisher after the cash call.
After the stake increase, Fiat, which already controls Turin newspaper La Stampa, will likely become the biggest shareholder in RCS because other investors have been selling their rights and will have their stakes diluted by the cash call.
Among those who stood to have his stake reduced was Rotelli, who in the past criticised the plan to overhaul RCS and decided not to take part in the capital increase.
Rotelli said some weeks ago that he would sell his rights to subscribe to the RCS cash call on the market, but it was not clear whether Fiat bought them or not.
Fiat said in a statement that the rise in its stake assumes the 400-million-euro capital increase is fully subscribed. The company currently holds 10.5 percent of RCS.
The carmaker's investment is aimed at giving the publisher's management the stability it needs to continue with its turnaround plan, a source close to the matter told Reuters.
Fashion entrepreneur Diego Della Valle, who owns a 8.7 percent of the publisher, has no intention of raising his stake, a source close to the matter told Reuters on Thursday.
Friday was the last day for trading the rights to subscribe the capital increase which will end on July 5. (Reporting by Silvia Aloisi, Jennifer Clark and Claudia Cristoferi.; Writing by Francesca Landini. Editing by Andre Grenon)