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Vivendi slips new round of Mediaset stake boost

Vivendi SA has yet again increased its Mediaset SpA stake, only days after the French media group raised its stake in the Italian firm to 20%.

Vivendi said in a Dec. 19 news release that its decision comes after a meeting between the company's CEO and Board Chairman Arnaud de Puyfontaine and Mediaset's CEO Pier Silvio Berlusconi on Dec. 16. Vivendi will acquire additional shares, depending on market conditions, within the limits of 30% of the share capital and voting rights.

Earlier denying allegations of a hostile takeover, Vivendi said that its action is in line with the intention "to develop its activities in Southern Europe."

Vivendi has augmented its Mediaset stake for the third time in December; after announcing a 3.01% ownership in Mediaset on Dec. 12, it has upped its stake to 12.32% and to 20%, becoming the second-largest industrial stakeholder in the Italian media company. Mediaset's biggest shareholder Fininvest SpA earlier filed a complaint against Vivendi for an alleged market manipulation.

Italian regulator AGCOM also stepped in saying that Vivendi's move could violate a provision in an Italian law that prohibits electronic communications firms with a market share of more than 40% to control more than 10% of large TV, radio and publishing firms such as Mediaset.