Paris - Vivendi SA increased its stake in Telecom Italia SpA to 14.9 percent as the French media group increases its influence over Italy’s biggest telecommunications provider.

Vivendi purchased 6.66 percent in Telecom Italia for about 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion), recently and on June 22, the Paris-based company said in a statement on Wednesday.

Vivendi said it already had a stake of about 8.2 percent as an eight-year-old shareholder accord that kept Italy’s dominant telecommunications company under the ownership of Telefonica SA and a group of financial investors dissolved.

Telefonica said separately it had sold all of its remaining shares in Telecom Italia for about 1.03 billion euros, resulting in a pretax gain of about 380 million euros.

The investment is an opportunity “to be present and to expand in a market with significant growth prospects and a very strong appetite for quality content”, Vivendi said in an emailed statement. “Vivendi intends to support Telecom Italia over the long term.”

Telecom Italia shares fell 1.1 percent to 1.18 euros at the close of trading in Milan on Wednesday.

Vivendi’s move marks the first in a series of deals by Chairman Vincent Bollore to reinforce his company’s presence in Italy and more broadly in southern Europe, a person familiar with the billionaire’s thinking said last week.

In Telecom Italia, Vivendi gains an ally with extensive broadband and wireless networks and tens of millions of customers. Vivendi, which owns France’s largest pay-TV provider Canal Plus, has said it’s seeking partners to help distribute its sports programmes, TV series and music.

Bollore is the second-largest investor in Mediobanca, Italy’s biggest publicly traded investment bank.