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MILAN, April 26 (Reuters) – Mediaset said on Monday that it would ask shareholders to approve the relocation of the Italian chain’s headquarters to the Netherlands in a new effort to continue its international expansion.
Mediaset had previously been forced to suspend its plan to create a Dutch holding company that would make it easier for the group to seek European mergers due to opposition from its second investor, Vivendi, who fought the project in court in across Europe.
In an apparent offer of an olive branch to Vivendi, Mediaset also said it would ask shareholders on May 27 to scrap a loyalty share program that Vivendi had challenged in court.
The group, which is controlled by the family of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, said it was seeking “to establish a constructive dialogue” with its shareholders.
Mediaset and Vivendi have been at odds since a pay-TV deal broke down in 2016. Two people familiar with the matter said the groups were once again trying to resolve their dispute.
After renouncing an agreement to purchase Mediaset’s pay-TV unit, Vivendi has formed a stake that the Italian group considers hostile. Vivendi is also the first investor of the largest Italian telephony group Telecom Italia.
Italian regulators had forced the French company to transfer two-thirds of its 29% stake in Mediaset to a trust, which was then banned from voting at general meetings, but two court rulings at the end of the year last gave Vivendi full voting rights.
The support of the French group is now essential to pass extraordinary resolutions such as the decision to move the headquarters to the Netherlands, which will be voted on on June 23.
The litigation with Vivendi has complicated Mediaset’s plans to develop a European growth strategy, which it considers crucial to fight competition from streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Mediaset said Monday that operating profit fell to 269.7 million euros ($ 326 million) from 354.6 million euros in 2019, hit by the COVID-19 crisis which was only only partially offset by cost reductions and a recovery in national advertising sales in the second half of the year. from 2020. ($ 1 = 0.8272 euros) (Reporting by Elvira Pollina; editing by Valentina Za and Sonya Hepinstall)