- Chief Executive Officer De Puyfontaine among those nominated
- Request needs the approval of Telecom Italia's assembly
Vivendi SA, the biggest investor in Telecom Italia SpA, is seeking four board seats to win more influence over the Italian telecommunications provider as the French media company expands video and music and distribution in southern Europe.
Vivendi, run by Chairman Vincent Bollore, asked Telecom Italia to supplement the agenda of its Dec. 15 shareholders meeting to discuss the board seats. Vivendi, which has a 20 percent stake in Telecom Italia, proposed as new directors its Chief Executive Officer Arnaud De Puyfontaine, Chief Operating Officer Stephane Roussel, Chief Financial Officer Herve Philippe and Felicite Herzog, former manager of energy company Areva SA.
The French company is executing a plan to build a media group around its French pay-TV station Canal Plus and collaborate with carriers to distribute TV series and movies. Board seats at Telecom Italia would give Vivendi more clout to initiate changes and influence the strategy of Italy’s biggest telecommunications company.
Shares of Telecom Italia lost 0.4 percent to 1.15 euros at 9:31 a.m. in Milan. Vivendi declined 0.7 percent in Paris.
Vivendi’s request needs the green light of Telecom Italia’s assembly, which is scheduled to approve the conversion of saving shares into common stocks next month, and will have to increase the board’s seats to 17 from 13. The Telecom Italia board will meet in the coming days to review the request, the company said.
Last month, the French billionaire Xavier Niel, the founder of broadband provider Iliad SA, said he holds securities equivalent to a 15.1 percent stake in Telecom Italia through his personal investment company. His holding is through financial instruments that don’t yet carry voting rights.
Together, Niel and Vivendi SA may have an effective stake of more than 30 percent in Telecom Italia. Until earlier this year, Italy’s largest phone company had been controlled by Spain’s Telefonica SA and a group of Italian financial investors. Their replacement by the two French shareholders comes as Telecom Italia Chief Executive Officer Marco Patuano seeks to revive the company’s local business and sell assets to reduce a debt load of almost 27 billion euros ($29 billion).
(An earlier version of this story corrected the spelling of finance chief’s name in second paragraph.)