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Mediaset shares rally after peace deal with Vivendi

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By Elvira Pollina

MILAN (Reuters) - Mediaset rallied on Tuesday after it agreed a consensual break-up with its second-largest investor Vivendi , putting an end to years of legal sparring and enabling the Italy's top commercial broadcaster to pursue its expansion abroad.

Mediaset shares jumped almost 6%, to levels last reached in September 2019, and were up 3% by 0811 GMT.

Controlled by billionaires Silvio Berlusconi and Vincent Bollore, respectively, Mediaset and Vivendi have been at odds since 2016, when the French media giant built a 29% stake in the Milan-listed group following a collapsed pay-TV deal.

After a recent string of victories scored by Vivendi in court, the parties on Monday agreed a scheme under which the French company will drastically cut its stake in Mediaset.

Vivendi will sell on the market over a period of five years the two-thirds of its 28.8% stake in Mediaset which it had been forced to place into a trust.

Fininvest, the Berlusconi family's holding company, which already owns 44% of Mediaset, will buy another 5% from Vivendi at a price of 2.7 euros a share, a touch above Monday's market close.

Vivendi spent some 1.3 billion euros in 2016 to built its Mediaset stake, paying 3.7 euros a share.

The accord also commits Mediaset to paying an extraordinary dividend of 0.30 euro a share in July, while ensuring Vivendi's backing of Mediaset's plan to move its legal base to the Netherlands as part of a wider strategy to seek tie-ups with European peers.

"The agreement is positive because it allows Mediaset to get the transfer of its headquarters to the Netherlands and to go ahead with the project to create a European free-to-air TV operator," broker Equita wrote in a note.

Mediaset, which controls Spanish broadcaster Mediaset Espana, has built a potential 23.5% stake in German media group ProSiebenSat.1 as part of its European expansion plan.

It is also among the contenders for Bertelsmann's controlling stake in France's M6.

Equita said it expects Mediaset will target "an aggregation with Mediaset Espana and therefore with ProSieben".

(Reporting by Elvira Pollina; editing by Agnieszka Flak and Jason Neely)