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US activist investor makes move on Telecom Italia

US activist investor Elliott Management has taken a stake in Telecom Italia and is seeking to oust Vivendi-appointed directors in a move that further complicates the French media giant’s Italian strategy.

According to Italian financial paper Il Sole 24 Ore, the US fund has taken a position that does not exceed the 5% Italian regulatory threshold. A spokesman told the paper that Elliott had analysed the governance and valuation of the Italian telco and believed they could be improved by replacing some board members with independent directors, which has been interpreted as meaning the removal of Vivendi-appointed directors including the company’s chairman and CEO.

Telecom Italia chief executive Amos Genish meanwhile told the Financial Times that he was due to meet Elliott in London today during an investor roadshow to listen to the group’s demands.

Genish told the paper that any move to force Telecom Italia to try to merge its Brazilian operation with bandrupt telecom player Oi would be resisted. Genish said that Telecom Italia’s management would put its growth plan to shareholders on April 24 at an extraordinary general meeting, and that investors could decide between its “serious industrial approach” and an American Hedge fund “sausage factory” approach.

According to Il Sole 24 Ore, Elliott’s stake is believed to be under 3%.