October 11, 2019 / 11:52 AM / 3 days ago

Spanish court puts Mediaset's pan-European plan on hold

MILAN/MADRID, Oct 11 (Reuters) - A Spanish court has temporarily halted a plan to merge Italian broadcaster Mediaset’s domestic and Spanish business into a Dutch holding company, pending a legal challenge by shareholder Vivendi, Mediaset Espana said on Friday.

Mediaset’s second-biggest shareholder Vivendi challenged the corporate overhaul in court because the French group sees it as detrimental to minority shareholders.

Pending a decision on Vivendi’s lawsuit, the court granted a precautionary suspension.

“Mediaset Espana strongly disagree with this interim ruling, and will immediately appeal,” the company said, adding it was confident a higher court would reverse the decision.

“The reasons behind Mediaset Espana’s position ... are very solid and support the legal, economic and managerial rationale of the accords that have been challenged.”

Mediaset’s reorganisation plan aims at creating a platform to better pursue pan-European tie-ups to face growing competition in the industry.

Vivendi has been a hostile Mediaset shareholder since the tycoons who control them, Vincent Bollore and former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, fell out in 2016 over an aborted pay-TV deal. They have been in a legal war ever since.

By 1030 GMT shares in Mediaset Espana fell 1.4% having extended losses following the court ruling. Shares in Mediaset were broadly flat.

Neither Vivendi or Mediaset was immediately available for comment.

Reporting by Elvira Pollina in Milan and Jose Elias Rodriguez in Madrid; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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