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Berlusconi heirs accept will, agree five-year freeze on stakes

MILAN (Reuters) -The five children of the late media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi on Monday accepted "in full harmony" their father's will, the former prime minister's heirs said, ensuring a smooth transition for his business empire.

In becoming the sole owners of the family's holding company Fininvest, the heirs have committed to a five-year so-called "lock-up" period during which their respective stakes will remain unchanged, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

Berlusconi, who died in June aged 86, in his will handed his eldest children, Marina and Pier Silvio, control of the majority of Fininvest, which had assets worth 4.5 billion euros at the end of last year.

"Marina, Pier Silvio, Barbara, Eleonora and Luigi Berlusconi announce that they have accepted their father's inheritance, interpreting his last wishes in total harmony to honour his memory with profound gratitude," they said in a joint statement.

The heirs signalled unity in foregoing the possibility of accepting the inheritance under the benefit of inventory, which would have lengthened the procedure as it requires checks to cap any liabilities at the value of the assets, the person said.

Marina and Pier Silvio, the children from Silvio Berlusconi's first marriage, have been for decades at the helm of the family's media and TV businesses Mondadori and MFE-MediaForEurope, previously Mediaset.

Marina has chaired Fininvest since 2005. The family holding company also owns a 30% stake in Italian asset manager Banca Mediolanum, worth 1.8 billion euros at current market prices, as well as top league soccer club AC Monza.

Marina and Pier Silvio will own a combined voting stake of 52% in Fininvest, the source said, with the remainder held by Berlusconi's younger three children, the offspring from his second marriage.

Barbara, Eleonora and Luigi will have the right to pick three Fininvest board members under an agreement with the eldest siblings, the source added.

(Reporting by Elvira Pollina; editing by Valentina Za and Timothy Gardner)