LONDON (Reuters) - Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was found guilty of tax fraud by Italy’s Cassation Court on Thursday, confirming a ruling from a lower court.
Judges at Italy’s top court, however, ordered further judicial review of a ban on Berlusconi holding public office.
The former prime minister has kept control of his media empire, laying himself open to accusations of a conflict between his political and business interests and leaving him vulnerable to numerous corruption investigations into him and his companies. Here are some details:
- Fininvest is the family’s holding company and it has control over assets worth more than 5 billion euros ($6.6 billion).
- Berlusconi, through his holding company, has increased his stake in the Italian commercial broadcaster Mediaset to 41.1 percent. Mediaset, founded in 1978, has terrestrial television channels, digital terrestrial channels and an advertising arm. It controls Spanish broadcaster Mediaset Espana.
- Berlusconi’s ownership of Mediaset, which captures more than 60 percent of television advertising spend, has long been an anomaly that critics say has been a major factor in his dominance of Italian politics for almost 20 years. The company posted its first ever annual net loss in March 2013 as advertising spending fell because of the economic downturn. The total market value of the company is 3.9 billion euros $5.2 billion)
- Berlusconi owns 53 percent of Italy’s leading publisher.
- It is Italy’s biggest book and magazine publisher and the third largest in the consumer magazine sector in France. Mondadori’s activities also include advertising, digital, radio, retailing and direct marketing. The group is the absolute leader in Italy’s book market, operating through publishing houses including Edizioni Mondadori, Einaudi, Piemme, Sperling & Kupfer and Electa.
- In magazines, Mondadori publishes some of Italy’s most-read and well-known titles, including Panorama, the country’s first news weekly; Grazia, Italy’s first women’s magazine - now distributed internationally; it has a market cap of around 250 million euros.
- Daughter Marina Berlusconi has been chairwoman of the company since February 2003 and since October 2005 has been chairwoman of Fininvest.
- In June, prosecutors recommended Italy’s supreme court back a ruling that orders Fininvest to pay more than 500 million euros in damages over the acquisition of the publisher twenty years ago, legal sources said. The case related to a 1991 verdict in which a Rome court effectively enabled Fininvest to acquire a controlling stake in Mondadori from CIR.
MEDIOLANUM: - Italian asset manager Mediolanum (35 percent stake). The market value is 4.2 billion euros.
MOLMED: - An Italian medical biotechnology company (23.9 percent stake) - market value 100 million euros.
MEDIOBANCA: - Italian top investment bank (2.06 percent stake), Berlusconi’s son Pier Silvio holds a board seat at Mediobanca.
- Through Mediaset, Berlusconi owns Italy’s leading movie production and distribution house Medusa Film. It produces films by Italy’s best-known directors and distributes Oscar-winner Roberto Benigni’s movies. Fininvest also controls 45 percent of directories company Pagine Utili and fully controls Milan theatre Teatro Manzoni.
- Berlusconi has owned AC Milan since 1986 and the club has been European champion five times under his leadership and last won the Italian league, Serie A, in 2010-2011.
- The club’s fortunes have dipped in the past couple of seasons amid cost cutting, and it has not won major trophies recently. The club could be valued at around 850 million euros based on media reports at the end of 2012. ($1 = 0.7531 euros)
Reporting by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit and Danilo Masoni in Milan; Editing by Robin Pomeroy