Berlusconi media empire looks to fend off takeover

Shares in Silvio Berlusconi's Mediaset empire have fallen nearly 8 percent after the Italian government suggested it wouldn't accept a hostile takeover by France's Vivendi media group.

Trading in Mediaset was halted twice on the Milan stock exchange Thursday morning for excessive losses, a day after Vivendi confirmed it had acquired a 20 percent stake in Berlusconi's television and publishing group.

Mediaset holding company Fininvest lodged a complaint with Milan prosecutors late Wednesday alleging market manipulation. Mediaset accused Vivendi of taking advantage of the 30 percent drop in Mediaset's share value after Vivendi backed out of a plan to buy its Premium unit over the summer.

Economic development minister Carlo Calenda said Vivendi's move "doesn't appear to be the most appropriate way to proceed" to boost Vivendi's presence in Italy.