Italy's RCS dissolves shareholder pact


MILAN (Reuters) - The shareholder pact controlling RCS MediaGroup (MIL:RCS) has been wound up ahead of time, a move expected to cut shareholder interference in the loss-making publisher of Italy's leading newspaper Corriere della Sera.

In a statement on Monday the pact, which owns some 60 percent of RCS, said its members had agreed to dissolve itself before a March 2014 expiry date, giving members carte blanche on what to do with their shares.

"It has been dissolved, everyone is free," Francesco Merloni, member of the pact and shareholder of RCS, said.

In July carmaker Fiat (MIL:F) won a battle for control of the publisher after almost doubling its stake to 20 percent in a surprise move.

"It's a necessary move. Corporate governance was messy before with shareholders interfering in management," a source close to the matter said.

Shareholder pacts have been widely used in Italy for decades allowing small groups of people to wield control over some of the country's most influential firms.

But they are now falling from grace as companies struggle to improve profitability in Italy's worst recession in 60 years.

In its statement the pact said the dissolution is expected to become effective by the end of October.

RCS raised 410 million euros (348.2 million pounds) in July through a share issue to keep the publisher running as a business and give CEO Pietro Scott Jovane the fire power to turn things round.

The pact said all shareholders supported the company's business and financial plan, underscoring the importance of stability and editorial independence.

RCS is a relatively small publisher compared to its European peers, but has traditionally been a power centre for Italy's business elite.

(Reporting by Claudia Cristoferi, Danilo Masoni and Stephen Jewkes; editing by David Evans)

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