Marchionne calls Fiat investment in RCS 'strategic'

Stake would make Fiat the largest single shareholder

Marchionne calls Fiat investment in RCS 'strategic'

Turin, July 8 - Fiat Group Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne on Monday called the automaker's investment in the troubled Italian publishing-house RCS Mediagroup a "strategic" move. "It is strategic, otherwise we would not have invested so much," Marchionne told journalists on the margins of an industry conference in Turin. RCS Mediagroup, owner of national dailies Corriere della Sera and La Gazzetta dello Sport as well as other media companies, is seeking a 400-million-euro capital increase, which financial sources said on Friday had been 85% underwritten by existing shareholders. The remaining 15% that went unsubscribed as part of the rights issue will be sold directly on the Italian stock market over five trading sessions starting from Wednesday, the sources said. Earlier this month, Fiat, a minority shareholder in RCS, levered the fundraising maneuver to increase its stake from 10% to a possible 20%, acquiring the options on the open market as well as roughly 3% worth from other participants in RCS's majority-shareholder pact, to which Fiat belongs. Taking a 20% stake would make Fiat the largest single shareholder of RCS. Leading shareholders in RCS Mediagroup include Fiat, Pirelli, merchant bank Mediobanca, fashion entrepreneur Diego Della Valle - who owns a controlling stake in luxury-goods maker Tod's - and the Benetton family.

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