French media group reportedly hopes to win two-thirds of operator’s board seats.
Vivendi is seeking to gain control of Telecom Italia by winning two-thirds of the operator’s board seats, it emerged this week.
Sources cited by Reuters on Wednesday said that the French media conglomerate has informed the European Commission that it could take de facto control of Telecom Italia at next month’s shareholder meeting, at which a new board will be elected.
Vivendi is Telecom Italia’s biggest single shareholder with a stake of 23.94%. There are currently four Vivendi executives on Telecom Italia’s 16-member board, including CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine, who serves as vice chairman.
Sources cited in a separate Reuters report last week claimed that Vivendi is considering nominating de Puyfontaine as Telecom Italia’s next chairman.
If this and last week’s reports are accurate, these developments represent a substantial change in Vivendi’s plans regarding Telecom Italia.
Vivendi chairman Vincent Bolloré said in an interview with the Financial Times last June that his company was not looking to manage Telecom Italia.
"We manage content…We don’t manage Telecom Italia and we will never manage it," he said at the time.
The developments will also do little to dissuade Italy’s antitrust regulators from poring over Vivendi’s influence at Telecom Italia. Watchdogs have been looking into Vivendi’s position in Telecom Italia after the former built up a 28.8% stake in broadcaster Mediaset. Local antitrust rules prevent a single player from controlling large stakes in both telcos and content companies.