Dutch court halts Mediaset pan-European plan until Sept.1 - sources
By Elvira Pollina
MILAN, July 24 (Reuters) - An Amsterdam court has reserved a decision on the planned merger of Italy's top commercial broadcaster Mediaset MS.MI and its Spanish unit TL5.MC under a Dutch holding entity until Sept. 1, temporarily halting the operation, Mediaset said on Friday.
Controlled by the family of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Mediaset wants to use the new entity to build alliances with peers in Europe to take on competition from video streaming services like Netflix NFLX.O.
But France's Vivendi, which is Mediaset's second largest shareholder, is fighting the project in courts across Europe, saying the governance structure of the new entity would tighten the Berlusconis' grip over the group.
In February, Dutch judges rejected Vivendi's request to suspend the project, prompting Vivendi to appeal. Mediaset's plan was already on hold pending a Spanish court decision on its corporate overhaul.
Mediaset said in a statement it was confident its project would be completed as planned, despite "a new slowdown" created by a hostile shareholder which it said was damaging the company's other investors and its employees.
Vivendi and Mediaset have been at odds since the French conglomerate in 2016 pulled out of an 800 million euro ($931 million) agreement to buy Mediaset’s loss-making pay-TV unit.
The French group went on to build a 29% stake in Mediaset, a move which the Italian broadcaster considers hostile.
A legal case has been ongoing ever since.
($1 = 0.8593 euros)
(Reporting by Elvira Pollina; Editing by James Mackenzie and Jan Harvey)
((email@example.com; 0039 0266129486;))