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Telecom Italia ‘Developments’ Being Reviewed by Prosecutors

Telecom Italia Logo is seen on a Public Payphone
The Telecom Italia logo is seen on a public payphone operated by Telecom Italia SpA, in Civitella Casanova. Photographer: Marc Hill/Bloomberg

Prosecutors in Rome are reviewing recent “developments” at Telecom Italia SpA as part of an examination with Italian stock market regulator.

Telecom Italia and its top investor Telco SpA aren’t under probe for obstruction of regulatory activities or any other crimes, according to a statement read on the phone by an assistant to Rome prosecutor Nello Rossi.

The official issued the statement after Corriere della Sera and other newspapers reported that authorities are probing Telco investors, including Telefonica SA, for allegedly obstructing the activity of regulators.

The prosecutors are reviewing unspecified company developments since October and exchanging information with the Italian watchdog Consob, according to their statement. Franco Bernabe, Telecom Italia’s former chief executive officer, was interviewed yesterday as a witness, they said. Bernabe, who isn’t accused of any wrongdoing, resigned Oct. 3 after clashing with top shareholders over his attempt to boost capital.

Marco Fossati, whose Findim Group SA is the third-largest investor in Telecom Italia, and a group of minority shareholders complained to Consob after the Nov. 7 announcement by the carrier that it was selling mandatory convertible bonds and disposing of assets in Argentina. The investors claimed that Telecom Italia didn’t follow disclosure requirements.

Market Regulator

Corriere also reported that prosecutors were reviewing whether the Telco agreement in September that allowed Telefonica to boost its Telecom Italia holding was carried out to avoid scrutiny by the market regulator. Telefonica is the biggest investor in Telco, which in turn owns about 22 percent of Telecom Italia. An official at Telefonica declined to comment.

Telecom Italia CEO Marco Patuano said at today’s shareholders meeting that the company is cooperating with Consob on the review of the sale of its stake in Telecom Argentina and the convertible bond sale.

Investors are scheduled to vote on a motion by Findim to revoke the company’s board.

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