July 5, 2013 / 7:16 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-RCS Mediagroup says capital increase 85 pct subscribed

(Recasts with company confirmation, adds context)

MILAN, July 5 (Reuters) - Italian publisher RCS Mediagroup’s capital increase ended on Friday with about 15 percent of the new shares left unsold, and with carmaker Fiat emerging so far as its largest shareholder.

Investors bought 85 percent of shares on offer, the company said, and rights to unsold shares will be traded next week.

The unsold shares in the loss-making group could be purchased by Diego Della Valle, owner of luxury group Tod’s , who said on Thursday he could increase his stake from the 8.81 percent he now holds after buying up his portion of the capital increase.

Della Valle has been critical of the publisher’s turnaround plan, which is backed by Fiat and the publisher’s management. Della Valle’s plans to bring the publisher back to profit are unclear.

RCS, which prints the influential newspaper Corriere della Sera, was forced to ask shareholders for more capital after incurring losses on a debt-financed acquisition in Spain. Moreover, its revenues have suffered from weak advertising and circulation sales in recession-hit Italy.

The group’s losses had sparked speculation that the assemblage of banks, insurers, blue chip companies and industrialist families that hold control of 58.1 percent of RCS would forgo buying up shares, potentially leaving a majority in the hands of underwriters.

Such an outcome could have endangered the editorial freedom of the Corriere, considered an important asset in a country where media groups are almost all in the hands of family-owned industrial conglomerates. (Reporting by Claudia Cristoferi; Writing by Jennifer Clark; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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