December 20, 2016 / 2:30 PM / a year ago

Italian foreign minister 'very concerned' by Vivendi's Mediaset move

PARIS (Reuters) - Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano said on Tuesday that he was “very concerned” by Vivendi’s (VIV.PA) moves to increase its stake in Italian broadcaster and media group Mediaset (MS.MI) and called for respect of market rules.

“This is something that concerns the whole of the Italian system, not just one company,” said Alfano, speaking at a briefing in Paris with his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault.

“We respect market rules and we expect a mutual respect of these rules,” he said.

Vivendi has said it will raise its holding in Mediaset close to the 30 percent threshold that would trigger a full takeover bid - angering Italy’s government and fuelling an ongoing spat between the two companies over an earlier failed pay-TV deal.

The Mediaset tower is seen in Cologno Monzese neighbourhood Milan, Italy, in this April 7, 2016 file photo. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/File Photo

A spokesman for Italy’s market watchdog Consob said on Monday the authority is looking at all aspects of the Mediaset-Vivendi case.

Fininvest, which holds 38.3 percent of Mediaset and is controlled by former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, said on Monday that it had filed a market abuse complaint with Consob against Vivendi - a company controlled by the French tycoon Vincent Bollore.

    The complaint alleges that by withdrawing earlier this year from a deal to buy Mediaset’s pay-tv business and then buying Mediaset stock, Vivendi is engaging in market manipulation.

    Fininvest also asked Consob to exercise all the powers it has under Italian financial regulation, which includes among other possibilities the seizure of company assets.

    Reporting by John Irish; Writing by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Mathieu Rosemain and Adrian Croft

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