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France's Vivendi seeks meeting with Mediaset to discuss truce: sources


By Elvira Pollina

MILAN (Reuters) - French media group Vivendi has asked to meet top executives at Mediaset to discuss a deal to end its long-running row with the Italian broadcaster, three sources with knowledge of the matter said on Tuesday.

Mediaset - controlled by the family of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi - and its second largest shareholder Vivendi have been embroiled in a legal battle since Vivendi pulled out of a deal to buy Mediaset's pay-TV business in 2016.

The row intensified last year when Mediaset approved a plan to merge its Italian and Spanish businesses under a Dutch holding company, through which it wants to build pan-European alliances.

But opposition from Vivendi, which says the holding's governance structure would strengthen the Berlusconis' grip over the group, led to the project being suspended by a Madrid court.

Last week, Mediaset invited Vivendi, which had said it was available to discuss the Italian TV group's European growth plans, to submit concrete proposals to boost the business abroad, as part of a wider settlement.

In a subsequent letter to Mediaset's board members, Vivendi asked for a meeting with the group's top executives.

The letter does not however advance any plan for a possible deal between the two groups, two sources said on Tuesday. One of the sources said Vivendi had asked Mediaset to come up with a proposal.

Both Mediaset and Vivendi declined to comment.

Following the failure of the pay-TV deal four years ago Vivendi built up a 29% stake in Mediaset, a move considered hostile by the Italian group.

A legal case has been ongoing ever since and attempts to reach a wider settlement have so far proven unsuccessful.

(Reporting by Elvira Pollina; Editing by Giulia Segreti and Jan Harvey)

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