RCS expects Milan tribunal decision on building dispute with Blackstone by end-May

RCS expects Milan tribunal decision on building dispute with Blackstone by end-May

A Milan arbitral tribunal will reach a final decision by the end of May regarding the disputed sale of the headquarters of Italian publisher RCS (RCSM.MI) to Blackstone Group (BX.N), according to RCS’s 2020 financial report.

Four sources close to the matter confirmed the decision would come in May but said that the exact date of the filing is still not known.

RCS Mediagroup, which publishes the influential daily Corriere della Sera, launched arbitration proceedings in late 2018 to nullify the 2013 sale of its historic headquarters in central Milan to Blackstone, saying the U.S. investment firm had paid too low a price at a time when RCS faced financial difficulties.

Blackstone, which paid 120 million euros ($145 million) for the offices, has in turn accused RCS of falsely claiming that it still owns the building and of improperly blocking its sale to Germany’s Allianz (ALVG.DE).

The U.S. investment firm filed two lawsuits in New York which were put on hold pending the outcome of the arbitration in Italy.

It is seeking up to $600 million in damages from RCS and from its chairman and main shareholder Urbano Cairo, who took control of the company in 2016, a source close to the fund said at the time.

RCS’ financial report, published on the company’s website, shows it has not set aside risk provisions for the legal dispute.

The arbitral tribunal filed a partial sentence in May last year ruling that the sale was valid and ordering two expert reports on the financial situation of RCS in 2013 and on the market value of the property at the time, to assess whether there has been any damage to RCS and, if so, how much.

Milan prosecutors separately requested last week to shelve an investigation into alleged exploitation by Blackstone over the building sale following a complaint about the transaction filed by a small RCS shareholder in 2019, a judicial source said on Monday.

($1 = 0.8268 euros)

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