Vivendi submits slate ahead of Telecom Italia board battle

Vivendi has submitted its slate of candidates for the board of Telecom Italia (TIM) as it prepares to do battle with a hostile coalition of investors led by US hedge fund Elliott and Italian state-backed investment outfit Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP).

Amos Genish

Vivendi’s list of candidates is headed by current CEO Amos Genish and also includes Arnaud de Puyfontaine, proposed as non-executive chairman. France Bernabè has been proposed as vice-president in charge of issues related to security.

Others on the Vivendi slate are Marella Moretti, Frédéric, Crepin, Michele Valensise, Giuseppina Capaldo, Anna Jones, Camilla Antonini and Stéphane Roussel. Moretti, Valensise, Capaldo, Jones and Antonini have been proposed as independent directors.

Vivendi has also proposed that the board membership be set at 15 members serving three-year terms.

Vivendi’s publication of its slate comes as the board of CDP approved the entry of the group into TIM’s shareholders with a stake of up to 5%. CDP is also 50% owner of Open Fiber, the FTTH initiative backed by energy group Enel.

CDP’s move comes after Elliott, which is trying to oust Vivendi from the leadership of the telco and drive through a new strategy that would see the company split off its infrastructure arm, succeeded in securing a vote at TIM’s April 24 annual shareholders meeting on the replacement of Vivendi’s board representatives and the appointment of six new independent directors. This came after TIM’s board of statutory auditors added the item to the agenda for the meeting. Vivendi’s board representatives had earlier resigned en masse, which was widely interpreted as a move the delay the election of the new board until May 4 and give the French media giant time to persuade investors to support it.

TIM issued as statement saying the May 4 meeting would still go ahead as planned.

Vivendi’s vision for the future of TIM suffered a separate blow this week when Italian broadcaster Mediaset teamed up with Sky Italia to combine its pay TV activities with Sky’s. TIM had sought to forge its own content partnership with Mediaset, despite a long ongoing dispute between Vivendi and Mediaset over the former’s decision to pull out of an April 2016 deal that would have seen it take control of Mediaset’s struggling pay TV arm, Mediaset Premium.

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