MADRID (Reuters) - French media group Vivendi (VIV.PA) may take further legal action against Italy’s Mediaset (MS.MI) if it continues with a plan to merge its Italian and Spanish units, Vivendi’s representative in Mediaset Espana Vincent Vallejo said on Wednesday.
Controlled by the family of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, Mediaset approved a merger of its Italian and Spanish units under a Dutch holding company called MediaforEurope (MFE) last September.
But Vivendi, led by French billionaire Vincent Bollore and a major shareholder in Mediaset, is fighting the project in courts across Europe, saying the governance structure of the new entity would strengthen the Berlusconis’ grip on the company.
Shareholders of Mediaset Espana on Wednesday approved tweaks to the merger plan proposed by its parent company to try and push the reorganization through.
On Monday, a Milan judge rejected Vivendi’s request to suspend the planned reorganization at Mediaset, but the process remains on hold because a Spanish judge last year ruled in favor of Vivendi.
There will be a preliminary hearing in Madrid on Thursday, as Mediaset tries to push ahead with the reorganization following the changes to the plan.
Mediaset wants to use the new holding company to pursue tie-ups with other European peers in a bid to create a pan-European TV champion to tackle growing competition in the industry from streaming rivals such as Netflix (NFLX.O).
Ahead of the vote, Vallejo said that Vivendi, which holds about 1% of Mediaset Espana, would vote against the proposed changes.
Mediaset faces a March deadline to see its Dutch holding company plan through, otherwise the decisions of a September shareholder meeting that approved the project will no longer be valid based on existing Dutch laws.
Reporting by Emma Pinedo, Writing by Inti Landauro; editing by Elvira Pollina and Kirsten Donovan