Mediaset eyes Medusa absorption

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ROME -- Italian broadcaster Mediaset is formulating a plan to absorb its film distribution unit Medusa, according to local media outlets.

A Mediaset spokesman declined comment on the reports, except to say that the move was "possible."

The reports said that the plan to absorb Medusa was part of the Silvio Berlusconi-controlled company's broader strategy to diversify its business plan as a hedge against a media-reform plan in development that could hurt television-related earnings.

Mediaset has been considering several major acquisitions. It was reported earlier in the week that the company is formulating a joint bid with John De Mol to acquire Dutch reality TV production company Endemol, a company De Mol founded.

Mediaset also has been linked with talks to acquire Fastweb, a leading Italian telephone company and Internet service provider. Swisscom earlier this week offered €3.7 billion ($4.9 billion) for the Rome-based company.

More recently, Mediaset was reported to be considering a bid for Telecom Italia, the former state telephone monopoly, which owns the country's leading mobile phone provider, its leading ISP and La 7, the smallest of the country's seven national networks.

Though Mediaset has declined to talk about anything regarding Telecom Italia, legal experts say that plan would surely cause antitrust concerns, given that La 7 -- along with state broadcaster RAI -- is one of only two competitors to Mediaset's three terrestrial networks.

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