Italy Rejects Berlusconi’s $3.6 Billion Damage Claim Vs Vivendi

A Milan Tribunal ruled on Monday Vincent Bollore’s Vivendi SE won’t need to pay as much as 3 billion euros ($3.6 billion) of damages as requested by former Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s companies after the French media conglomerate scrapped a pay-TV deal in 2016, according to court documents seen by Bloomberg.

The multi-billion damage claim by the broadcaster Mediaset SpA and by the Berlusconi’s holding company Fininvest SpA was reduced to about 2 million euros, the documents show. Mediaset said it will appeal, and Vivendi declined to comment on the ruling.

The two companies have been fighting since July 2016, when the French media conglomerate scrapped a plan to buy the Mediaset Premium pay-television unit in a share swap valued at about 893 million euros. Mediaset has sought billions of euros in damages from Vivendi for abandoning the deal. Vivendi is also largest shareholder of Italy’s former phone monopoly Telecom Italia SpA.

A few months after the pay-TV deal was scrapped, Vivendi built an almost 30% stake in Mediaset in a move the Italian company considers illegitimate. The tribunal said that Vivendi’s stake building did “not constitute the contested conduct of unfair competition” and dismissed the broadcaster’s complaint.

Last September, Vivendi won a court fight to keep its stakes in both Mediaset and Telecom Italia, after European Union judges delivered a blow to Italian rules curbing the power of media moguls.

In another trial, prosecutors alleged Bollore engaged in market manipulation, intentionally driving down Mediaset’s share price and obstructing the work of market regulator Consob, according to a statement last December. Vivendi had denied wrongdoing in a statement.

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