UPDATE 1-Vivendi becomes top shareholder in Telecom Italia

miércoles 24 de junio de 2015 15:53 GYT

* Vivendi now owns 14.9 pct of Telecom Italia

* Vivendi says deal gives foothold in growth market

* Telefonica says makes capital gain of 380 mln euros (Adds Vivendi and Telefonica comment, detail, background)

PARIS, June 24 (Reuters) - Vivendi said on Wednesday it raised its stake in Telecom Italia to 14.9 percent, replacing Telefonica as its biggest shareholder and gaining a foothold in a country it said had significant growth prospects.

The move makes Vincent Bollore, Vivendi chairman and top shareholder, a major player in European telecoms again only months after the group finished selling nearly 36 billion euros of telecom and video game assets to focus exclusively on media.

"This investment represents an opportunity for the group to be present and to expand in a market with significant growth prospects and a very strong appetite for quality content," Vivendi said. It also said it planned to support Telecom Italia over the long term.

With Telecom Italia seen by sector executives and bankers as a potential takeover target, billionaire Bollore could play king-maker in any coming consolidation. It will also make him more influential in Italy where his Bollore Group owns 7.46 percent of investment bank Mediobanca.

People familiar with the matter told Reuters last week that Vivendi planned to raise its stake to up to 15 percent, with a source saying on Sunday that it would reach 14.9 percent.

The French media group said on Wednesday it received 8.24 percent of Telecom Italia as part-payment for selling Brazilian broadband group GVT to Spanish carrier Telefonica.   Continuación...