Italy's Mediaset prevents Vivendi trust from voting at AGM

FILE PHOTO: A woman walks pass by a sign of Vivendi at the main entrance of the entertainment-to-telecoms conglomerate headquarters in Paris, France, November 21, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

MILAN (Reuters) - Mediaset said on Friday it would not allow the trust that holds most of French group Vivendi’s stake in the Italian broadcaster to vote at its annual shareholder meeting.

Vivendi and Mediaset have been at odds since the French conglomerate dropped a deal to buy Mediaset’s pay-TV unit in 2016 and then built up a 29% stake in the group, which the Italian broadcaster considers hostile.

Two-thirds of Vivendi’s stake in Mediaset is held in a trust called Simon Fiduciaria following a ruling by the Italian telecoms watchdog over Vivendi’s excessive presence in the country’s media and telecoms sectors, given its 24% holding in telecoms operator Telecom Italia.

Mediaset and Vivendi have been embroiled in a legal battle over the last four years. The spat worsened last year after Mediaset, controlled by the family of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, approved a plan to merge its Italian and Spanish units under a Dutch holding company it wants to use to build alliances with other broadcaster in Europe.

Vivendi, led by French billionaire Vincent Bollore, is fighting the project in courts across Europe, saying the governance structure of the new entity would strengthen the Berlusconis’ grip on the company.

Reporting by Elvira Pollina; editing by Agnieszka Flak