(Corrects day in sixth paragraph)
* Vivendi says no longer keen on finding amicable solution
* Mediaset's request to seize shares infuriated
* Mediobanca involved in indirect contacts - source
By Mathieu Rosemain, Gwénaëlle Barzic and Giulia Segreti
PARIS, Oct 19 French media giant Vivendi
is still open to an alternative deal with Italian
broadcaster Mediaset over its pay-TV unit despite a
"fair warning" it gave on Wednesday, two sources close to the
A deal with Mediaset, controlled by former Italian prime
minister Silvio Berlusconi, represents a key plank of the
strategy laid out by billionaire Vincent Bollore, Vivendi's
chairman and biggest shareholder, who has pledged to transform
the group into an integrated European media powerhouse.
Yet the two companies have officially been at odds since
Vivendi said in July it backed out of a binding agreement that
would give it full control of Mediaset's pay-TV unit Premium and
hand the two companies a 3.5 percent stake in each other.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Vivendi said it was no
longer keen on finding an amicable solution to its dispute with
Mediaset, following several accusatory statements by the Italian
broadcaster, which recently asked a court to order the seizure
of a 3.5 percent stake in Vivendi.
That particular legal action infuriated Vivendi, the sources
said. The first hearing to decide on Mediaset's request is
slated for Nov. 8. another source told Reuters last week, just a
day before a scheduled board meeting at Vivendi..
"Enough is enough", a source close to Vivendi said on
Wednesday. "We've made a lot of efforts to find a solution. This
is a fair warning."
In response to Vivendi's statement, Mediaset denied the
French firm's assertion on Wednesday that "incessant attempts"
had been made to find alternative solutions since July.
Vivendi declined to comment beyond the statement it
Top managers of Vivendi and Mediaset have not met since July
but indirect contacts between Mediaset and Vivendi have taken
place over the period through Mediobanca, a source close to the
Under the preferred alternative scenario Vivendi is
currently working on, Mediaset and Vivendi would get 40 percent
of Premium each and a third party, most likely an investment
fund, would get the remaining 20 percent, the same source said.
(Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain and Gwenaelle Barzic in Paris,
Giulia Segreti in Milan; Editing by Leigh Thomas)