Italian media mogul Vittorio Cecchi Gori is taking legal action against his partners in pay-TV platform Stream over a capital increase which he claims is designed to give Rupert Murdoch control of the company.
According to Italian press reports, Cecchi Gori has filed an urgent suit with a Rome court to try to overturn the $276m (lire540bn) capital increase which was decided at a board meeting on Feb 4. He claims he was only given a few hours notice for the meeting, and that the capital increase had been raised from the $153m (lire300bn) previously agreed.
"I suspect that they are trying to conduct a fictitious capital increase simply in order to get me out and that they intend to transfer Italy's second digital platform into foreign - more specifically Australian - hands," Cecchi Gori said to Italian reporters.
Murdoch's News Corp and Italian telco Telecom Italia each hold 35% of Stream while Cecchi Gori holds 18% and SDS, a soccer rights consortium of which Cecchi Gori is a member, holds the remaining 12%. Murdoch and Telecom Italia have reportedly been considering increasing their stakes to 50% in order to inject new funds into the platform, which they claim Cecchi Gori and SDS are reluctant to do.
However the Italian government has expressed concern about the level of foreign ownership of Stream and last year introduced legislation limiting soccer rights ownership amid concerns that Murdoch would dominate Italy's favourite sport.