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Vivendi committed to ‘making Telecom Italia great again’

The Vivendi office is seen in Paris on Wednesday, May 17, 2006.Vivendi is committed to help build Telecom Italia into a quad-play leader and lead it to “long-term and sustainable growth”, according to CEO – and TIM executive chairman – Arnaud de Puyfontaine.

Speaking to analysts after Vivendi posted its Q2 financials, De Puyfontaine said that TIM was committed to deliver large-scale investment in broadband.

De Puyfontaine said that TIM had “once upon a time” been a “best-of-breed player in the European telco business” but had unfortunately been allowed to go into decline, with the company more recently seen as a “prey rather than a hunter”.

He said Vivendi’s objective now was to “make Telecom Italia great again for the benefit of Italy and Italian customers, and perfectly aligned with the plan of the [Italian] government”.

Following the announcement that Vivendi’s Canal+ and TIM would collaborate on a joint venture to build a pay TV offering and acquire and produce premium content in Italy, De Puyfontaine said that “the first phase of our transformation plan is now completed” and that the second phase would be “dedicated to transforming Telecom italia’s model and tapping into new sources of growth, especially the development of ultra-broadband.”

He reiterated that Vivendi “does not control” the operator “according to Italian law”.

De Puyfontaine said that an “internal and external process” was in train to revamp TIM’s management following the appointment of Amos Genish as general manager in charge of operations. He said that a “final decision” regarding the telco’s management team would be taken in the coming weeks.

De Puyfontaine said that Vivendi needed to build scale at a pan-European level to fulfill its ambitions in media as well as to compete head on with the likes of Netflix. He said that this encompassed striking deals with telecom operators, and reiterated that “the pan-European approach that e are developing” was “spot on” as a strategy to create scale and be able to compete.

De Puyfontaine’s latest comments come as the Italian government is mulling whether to intervene over Vivendi’s influence over TIM. Italian officials are reportedly moving forwards with the process of determining whether Vivendi exercises a controlling influence over the operator, leading to speculation that the government could ultimately use its ‘golden power’ to intervene in cases where national strategic assets are threatened.

Vivendi has consistently maintained that it does not exercise a controlling influence over the telco.