Telecom Italia Holders Raise Concerns About Vivendi's Board Push

  • APG, JPMorgan and Standard Life among the shareholder funds
  • Funds say Vivendi hasn't provided information, objectives

A group of Telecom Italia SpA shareholders expressed concern about Vivendi SA’s quest for four seats on the phone carrier’s board, saying the French media company hasn’t provided clear information or the objectives of its campaign.

The group of Italian and foreign shareholders include APG Asset Management NV, Legal & General Investment Management Ltd., Standard Life Investments Ltd., and a JPMorgan Chase & Co. asset management unit, according to a letter posted on the website of Italian fund association Assogestioni late Thursday. Vivendi gaining the seats would dilute the influence of independent directors, affecting corporate governance at Italy’s largest phone carrier, the group said.

The shareholders asked Telecom Italia’s board, led by Chairman Giuseppe Recchi, to review Vivendi’s intentions. Marco Vicinanza, the coordinator of a fund managers’ committee and the author of the letter, didn’t provide further details when reached by Bloomberg News. A Milan-based spokesman for Vivendi declined to comment. A Rome-based spokesman for Telecom Italia wasn’t immediately available to comment.

Vivendi, run by Chairman Vincent Bollore, this week asked Telecom Italia to supplement the agenda of its Dec. 15 shareholder meeting to discuss the board seats. The French company, which has a 20 percent stake in Telecom Italia, is proposing as new directors its Chief Executive Officer Arnaud De Puyfontaine, Chief Operating Officer Stephane Roussel, Chief Financial Officer Herve Philippe and Felicite Herzog, ex-manager of energy company Areva SA.

Shares of Telecom Italia added 0.6 percent to 1.17 euros at 9:38 a.m. in Milan. Vivendi rose 0.1 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 stock, and would have to increase the board’s seats to 17 from 13.

At Telecom Italia’s previous annual general meeting, Assogestioni got all three of its proposed candidates approved after winning the most votes in the first round.

Vivendi is executing a plan to build a media group around its 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.

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