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

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MILAN/MADRID (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 (MC:) said on Friday.

Mediaset’s (MI:) second-biggest shareholder Vivendi (PA:) 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 reorganization 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.

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