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Mediaset tipped to sell pay TV to Vivendi

Italy’s Mediaset is close to striking a deal to sell its pay TV operation to Vivendi, according to a report by Reuters.

According to the report, citing unnamed sources, Mediaset CEO Pier Silvio Berlusconi and Vivendi chairman Vincent Bolloré are personally leading the talks, with Berlusconi committed to securing an agreement

Vivendi is seeking to buy Mediaset’s entire 89% in Mediaset Premium, according to Reuters. The remaining 11% of the unit is owned by Spain’s Telefónica.

According to one of the sources cited by Reuters, the pair are also discussing the possibility of setting up a pan-European content joint venture with a view to rivaling Sky.

Other reports have suggested that a mediating role could be played in this by Tarak Ben Ammar, the Franco-Tunisian movie producer and owner of France-based production outfit Quinta Communications, who has links both with Bolloré and the Berlusconi family.

The latest report follows weeks of speculation about Vivendi’s intentions regarding Mediaset, with local daily Corriere della Sera reporting last month that the French media giant had tabled an offer for the loss-making pay TV unit.

There has also been speculation that the talks could be the precursor to a wider deal that could see Vivendi take control of Mediaset in its entirety.

Vivendi has separately been building its influence in Telecom Italia. The media group now owns 23.8% of the Italian telco and has secured the nomination of four members of an enlarged board, amid reports that it is seeking to oust the telco’s CEO, Marco Patuano.