Italy ruling: Vivendi can't keep stakes in both TI, Mediaset

|By:, SA News Editor

Acquisitive Vivendi (VIVHY -1.8%) can't maintain its big stakes in both Telecom Italia (TI -2.6%) and Mediaset (MDIUY -2.7%), Italy's communications regulator says, following assertive moves from the French telecom to build a telecom/media beachhead in Italy.

Moves by Vivendi mogul Vincent Bollore (OTCPK:BOIVF) to build the stakes violates antitrust laws that restrict shares in both telecom and media markets in Italy, AGCOM said.

So Vivendi will have to choose and get rid of one of the stakes within a year, the regulator said, giving the company 60 days to submit a plan. Analysts think if his hand is forced, Bollore will choose to keep the TI stake.

Bollore took nearly a 30% stake in Mediaset last year, and slowly built a stake in Telecom Italia that's at 24%. Vivendi will appeal the decision, saying former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi exercises effective control over Mediaset.