Vivendi chief hits out at Mediaset's ‘misleading’ information during negotiations
Mediaset, the Italian commercial broadcaster, provided “misleading” information when it entered negotiations to sell its pay-TV arm to Vivendi, according to Arnaud de Puyfontaine, chief executive of the French media giant.
In April last year, Mediaset and Vivendi announced an agreement involving the exchange of 3.5-per-cent shareholdings in each other, and Vivendi taking 100 per cent of the share capital in Mediaset Premium in an €880-million ($946.4-million) agreement.
However, the deal collapsed in July, after Vivendi said it only wanted to buy a 20-per-cent share of Mediaset Premium and a 15-per-cent stake in the parent company, prompting an ongoing battle between the pair.
De Puyfontaine (pictured) told the Financial Times: “We signed an agreement in April 2016. We made it very clear that the nature of the information provided to us was misleading and we tried to find a way to get out of what was a kind of situation in which we were not happy.”
He continued: “Unfortunately circumstances have proved that the fair approach and the willingness to find [a solution] have been proved wrong by the events.”
In response to the Frenchman’s allegations, Mediaset said: “They had plenty of time to check Mediaset Premium fundamental financial and commercial data. On the basis of this due diligence they were able to agree a price . . . and [there were] only three specific reasons to refuse the closing. Not one of these reasons occurred and therefore Vivendi started to manipulate the truth creating huge damages to Mediaset.”
No compromise has been reached since the deal collapsed and Vivendi issued a statement in October saying that it was "no longer willing to give priority to finding an amicable solution.”
Mediaset had earlier requested that an Italian court seize a 3.5-per-cent stake in Vivendi, claiming that it was at risk of losing €1.5 billion if the initial deal did not go through, although the request was withdrawn last month.
The main case, in which Mediaset is seeking damages of €50 million for each month of delay to the implementation of the purchase agreement, is due to be heard this month.
In December, Vivendi upped its stake in Mediaset to 25.75 per cent, which prompted Mediaset to call on Agcom, the Italian communications authority, to intervene, claiming that Vivendi was preparing a ‘hostile takeover’ of the company.