Vivendi has come out fighting as Italian regulator Agcom ordered it to sell its stake in either Telecom Italia (TIM) or Mediaset on anti-trust concerns.
The regulator found that Vivendi’s position was not compliant with a 2005 ruling that limits the control a company can have over a market through ownership.
Vivendi holds a 24 percent stake in TIM and a 29 percent stake in Mediaset, Italy’s largest telco and broadcaster respectively.
The company has 12 months to comply with the order and must submit a specific plan of action within 60 days, Agcom said.
Vivendi, which also owns Universal Music Group and Dailymotion, said that it was “surprised” by the decision.
“Vivendi has always operated within Italian law, and specifically the Gasparri Law regarding the protection of media pluralism from the creation of dominant positions,” the France-based company said in a statement.
It said it reserves the right to take appropriate legal action to protect its interests, including filing an appeal at the Regional Administrative Court and submitting a formal complaint to the European Commission for the breach of EU law.
“Vivendi continues to be fully confident in the rule of law and is certain that finally its rights will be recognised,” the statement continued.
Vivendi became the largest shareholder in TIM in June 2015 and stated its intention to be a “long term shareholder” in the operator.
Earlier this month, Vivendi proposed a new list of candidates for TIM’s board of directors.
The list included Vivendi CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine, fuelling speculation that it wanted to oust TIM Chief Exec Flavio Catteneo.
Regarding Mediaset, Vivendi noted that it “neither controls nor exercises” a dominant influence on the company, given it is controlled by Fininvest which holds a close to 40 percent stake.
In April 2016, Vivendi and Mediaset unveiled a strategic partnership targeting the TV and video markets in Italy, Spain and France.
This included Vivendi swapping 3.5 percent of its share capital for 3.5 percent of Mediaset’s share capital and 100 percent of Mediaset’s Premium pay-TV business.
Vivendi has been gradually increasing its stake since.