Former Vivendi Chairman Vincent Bollore and Vivendi Chief Executive Officer Arnaud De Puyfontaine are among those charged by Italian prosecutors for allegedly driving down broadcaster Mediaset SpA’s share price in a market manipulation scheme, Bloomberg News reports.
Bollore, a French billionaire, also allegedly obstructed the work of market regulator Consob. Mediaset SpA is owned by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Vivendi has issued a statement denying the allegations, saying its current and former executives either acted in compliance with the law or are “extraneous” to the allegations. Mediaset has declined comment.
Vivendi and Mediaset have been embroiled in problems dating to July 2016, when Vivendi backed out of a plan to buy the Mediaset Premium pay-TV unit. That deal was valued at about $1.08 billion (893 million euros).
However, a few months later, Vivendi bought an almost 30% stake in Mediaset in an attempted takeover. Italy’s market regulator, Consob, was not informed, according to court documents.
Vivendi claims it reported all share purchases “in a timely and transparent manner.”
Court papers further claim that Vivendi spread “false information” about the reasons behind it scrapping its pay-TV deal with Mediaset.