* CIR damage payout cut by 35-41 percent -source
* CIR shares rise amid hopes of big compensation
* CIR satisfied with part of study, questions some aspects (Adds CIR statement)
MILAN, Sept 24 (Reuters) - An assessment ordered by a court could cut by up to 41 percent the compensation owed by Fininvest to CIR SpA CIRX.MI in a case involving a 1990s takeover battle for publishing group Mondadori MOED.MI, a source close to the case said on Friday.
Shares in CIR rose nearly 6 percent amid expectations it would still get a big compensation payout in the case, which has strong political overtones because Fininvest is the holding company of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
In a statement late on Friday, CIR said it noted with satisfaction a substantial part of the assessment’s findings on the economic damage suffered by CIR, but said some parts of the findings were strongly debatable.
“CIR and its lawyers reserve the right to look in more depth (at these parts)... CIR and its lawyers are confident that the case is going toward a confirmation of the company’s good reasoning also in appeal,” it said.
A Milan court ruling in October last year ordered Fininvest to pay CIR 750 million euros ($1 billion) in compensation for bribing a judge in the 1990s takeover battle. Fininvest, which denies any wrongdoing, is appealing the ruling.
As part of the appeal procedure, the court ordered an assessment by a panel of independent experts into how the damages were calculated.
The 120-page assessment document was deposited at the Milan court on Friday.
A source close to the case said that in line with the new calculations in the study, the damage payout to CIR could be cut by 35 to 41 percent compared with the October ruling, bringing it to between 445 million and 490 million euros.
A CIR source earlier said the initial damages had been reduced by 22 to 24 percent. The second source clarified that the study cut the estimated compensation payout by a bigger percentage because it reviewed a number of other elements.
Fininvest declined to comment or elaborate on the consequences of the examination.
Shares in CIR, holding company of Berlusconi’s arch-rival Carlo De Benedetti, began to rise significantly after news that the study was submitted to the court. Market watchdog Consob was investigating the CIR share rise, a Consob source said.
Before the study was deposited, brokerage Akros said in a research report that CIR’s share price was discounting roughly two-thirds of the 750 million compensation awarded last October.
The payment of the damage claim has been temporarily suspended pending the appeal ruling. The court has instead asked Fininvest for a bank guarantee to show it could pay the 750 million euros if necessary.
CIR shares closed up 5.2 percent at 1.4820 euros.
The case dates back to 1991 when a Rome court effectively enabled Fininvest to acquire a controlling stake in Mondadori from CIR. Subsequently a criminal court in 2007 found Berlusconi’s former lawyer Cesare Previti guilty of bribing a judge to rule in favour of Fininvest. Berlusconi was cleared of responsibility. (Reporting by By Sergio Matalucci. Additional reporting by Manuela D’Alessandro. Editing by David Holmes and Robert MacMillan) ($1=.7494 Euro)
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