Telecom Italia’s complicated relationship with Vivendi took another step forward as the European Commission waved through the France-based media group’s “acquisition of de facto control” over the telco.
Vivendi has amassed a 24 percent stake in TIM over the past few years, becoming the operator’s largest shareholder.
Earlier this month, the Canal+, Universal Music Group and Dailymotion owner added its CEO, CFO and General Counsel to TIM’s Board of Directors, meaning its representatives now outnumber those of the operator.
Although it has not submitted a formal takeover request – Vivendi continues to state its “long term commitment” to the operator – the Commission has been looking into how competition would be affected by the tie-up since the end of March.
Brussels noted that competition in the advertising, music, TV, mobile gaming and telecoms sectors would not be affected.
However, the Commission said that Vivendi would have had an incentive to raise prices in the wholesale TV market given its stake in both TIM and Mediaset, in which it owns 29 percent.
As a consequence, Vivendi agreed yesterday to divest TIM’s stake in Persidera, a joint venture the operator has with Gruppo Editoriale L'Espresso, which deals with wholesale access to digital terrestrial networks for the broadcast of TV channels.
The Commission’s ruling comes as Italian regulator Agcom said last month that Vivendi was in violation of the country’s media plurality laws.
While giving its blessing to Vivendi’s control over TIM, Brussels noted its decision did not affect Agcom’s ongoing review.
The regulator has said Vivendi should sell its stake in either TIM or Mediaset and has until mid-June to offer up a plan of action.
Vivendi is contesting this decision.
TIM and Vivendi could not be reached for comment.