Telecom Italia Owner Said to Consider Tononi as Chairman

Borsa Italiana SpA Chairman Massimo Tononi has emerged as a candidate to head Telecom Italia SpA’s board, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Tononi, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker who has been president of Italy’s stock exchange since 2011, is likely to be nominated as chairman by Telco SpA, the group that owns 22.4 percent of Telecom Italia, said the people, asking not to be named because the matter is confidential. No final decision has been made and other candidates may be proposed before Telecom Italia’s annual meeting scheduled for April 16.

Tononi’s availability is subject to whether a consensus could be reached among all shareholders, said one of the people. Marco Fossati, whose Findim Group SA has a 5 percent stake in Milan-based Telecom Italia, would support Tononi as long as he’s committed to representing all investors, one of the people said.

A representative for Telco declined to comment. A Telecom Italia spokesman couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The 49-year-old Tononi, born in Trento, Italy, is also chairman of cable manufacturer Prysmian SpA. He was appointed in 2006 by Romano Prodi’s government as a finance undersecretary. He also serves as a non-executive director at London Stock Exchange Group Plc, which owns Borsa Italiana.

Role Separation

Telecom Italia separated the role of chairman and chief executive officer after Franco Bernabe’s departure in October, naming Marco Patuano as CEO. It then appointed Aldo Minucci as interim chairman until a permanent successor is identified.

Fossati has been pushing for greater investor participation in corporate governance decisions at Italy’s biggest phone company. This week, Telecom Italia gave in to Fossati’s demand to add a vote on the next chairman to the agenda of the next annual meeting. The board will elect the chairman if no candidate receives a majority of votes.

Assicurazioni Generali SpA, the insurer that is part of Telco, said today it plans to exit the near seven-year shareholder pact as early as June. Telco is led by Spain’s Telefonica SA and its other investors are Intesa Sanpaolo SpA and Mediobanca SpA.

“We have two exit windows, one in June 2014 and one in February 2015,” CEO Mario Greco said during a conference call as Generali announced another writedown in its Telecom Italia stake. “It’s likely that we will exit in June’s window.”

Telecom Italia shares rose 0.1 percent to close at 80.7 euros cents in Milan trading. They have gained 12 percent this year, giving the company a market value of 14.8 billion euros ($20.6 billion).

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