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RCS Mediagroup may be split into three after cash call: report

MILAN (Reuters) - RCS Mediagroup , the publisher of influential Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, could be split into three units after a capital hike that is changing the balance of power among its shareholders, La Repubblica reported on Saturday.

The split, aimed at extracting value from the debt-laden company, could open the door to new investors, the Italian daily said in an unsourced report.

Fiat said on Friday it will almost double its stake in RCS to 20.1 percent after a 400 million-euro capital increase that ends next week.

The carmaker, which already controls Turin newspaper La Stampa, will likely become the biggest shareholder in RCS as other investors sell their rights and their stakes are diluted.

The controlling group of shareholders also includes investment bank Mediobanca , tire maker Pirelli , Italy's biggest retail bank Intesa Sanpaolo and leading insurer Generali .

The group could then hive off activities linked to Corriere della Sera and roll them into a new company with La Stampa.

A second unit could be built around sports newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, while a third company would absorb the Spanish assets of RCS, according to La Repubblica.

Fiat chairman John Elkann, who was named to the board of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp in May, could invite the Australian media tycoon to take a stake in one of the three new companies, La Repubblica said.

There is no plan to tie up RCS Mediagroup with News Corp , a source familiar with the situation told Reuters, adding that Fiat investment in RCS aims to stabilize a wobbly shareholder base so the company turnaround plan can proceed.

A plan worked out to shore up the company in February does not envisage any split and is based on the sale of a wide range of assets and on layoffs.

(Reporting by Francesca Landini and Jennifer Clark)

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