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Vivendi taking steps to ward of Italian move against TIM involvement

The Vivendi office is seen in Paris on Wednesday, May 17, 2006.Vivendi has reportedly written to the Italian prime minister’s office in an attempt to ward off the threat of the Italian government wielding its so-called ‘golden power’ to veto the French media group’s influence over Telecom Italia (TIM).

According to La Repubblica, Vivendi has enlisted the help of two senior Italian legal experts, Sabino Cassese and Andrea Zoppini, to make its case.

According to the paper, the media group has addressed the question of the departure of former CEO Flavio Cattaneo, denying that this was evidence of its control over the telco. It said that neither the assigning of power to executive chairman Arnaud de Puyfontaine or the appointment of Amos Genish as operations chief showed that Vivendi was in ‘control’ of the operator, and that the management changes were in line with Vivendi’s claim that it was ‘coordinating’ with TIM in specific areas in a way that falls far short of exercising management control.

According to the report, Cassese and Zoppini pointed out that Vivendi has not merged with TIM or challenged its remit and service obligations – developments that could potentially trigger the use of the golden power, which is reserved for cases where a country’s strategic interests are under threat.

Vivendi this week told Italian markets regulator CONSOB that it does not exercise control over TIM, arguing that “its participation in the telco is not sufficient to allow it to exercise, on a stable basis, a dominant influence at Telecom Italia shareholders’ meetings”.