Telecom Italia Holder Findim Seeks to Oust Telefonica From Board

Directors representing Telecom Italia SpA’s biggest owner have interests that may conflict with the foundering carrier’s recovery strategy and should be removed, according to the No. 3 shareholder.

Assets that Telefonica SA -- the biggest investor in a holding company with 22.45 percent of the Milan-based carrier -- has in Latin America could influence its representatives on the board when debating what to do with Telecom Italia’s assets in the region, Findim Group SA said in a statement.

Telefonica’s “strong presence” in Brazil and Argentina make its Telecom Italia board seats “particularly delicate,” said Findim, the Fossati family’s investment company.

Franco Bernabe stepped down as chief executive officer of Italy’s largest phone company this month after clashing with Telefonica and the other partners in holding company Telco SpA over whether to pursue a capital increase or sell off stakes in assets in Latin America. Telecom Italia is seeking at least 9 billion euros ($12 billion) for its controlling stake in Brazilian mobile carrier Tim Participacoes SA, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said this month.

A disposal of Telecom Italia’s 67 percent holding at that price would value Tim at about $18 billion, a 50 percent premium to the Rio de Janeiro-based company’s market value based on Oct. 8 closing price. The stake could fetch as much as 10 billion euros, said the person.

Board Meeting

Findim boosted its stake this week to 5.004 percent from 4.999 percent, earning it the right to call a board meeting. Findim Chairman Marco Fossati said in August that the shareholder needs to see “a strategic business plan that will create real value” at Telecom Italia and boost the management’s credibility.

The next Telecom Italia board meeting is scheduled for Nov. 7, when new leader Marco Patuano is set to unveil a business plan for both domestic and Latin America assets.

A spokesman for Madrid-based Telefonica and a spokesman for Telecom Italia declined to comment on Findim’s statement.

Telecom Italia shares fell 0.6 percent to 72 cents at 1:12 p.m. in Milan. They have advanced about 5 percent this year after eight straight annual declines.

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