Telecom Italia Backs Vivendi's Request for Board Extension

  • The appointment of four new members will be voted Dec. 15
  • The Milan-based carrier says Vivendi's directors are qualified

Telecom Italia SpA backed Vivendi SA’s proposal to add four new directors to its board at a Dec. 15 shareholder meeting, rejecting criticism by a group of Italian and foreign investment funds that the move would damage corporate governance.

"The appointment of new directors may be a chance to enrich the company’s board with qualified directors and a well-balanced mix of skills," the Milan-based carrier said in a statement Wednesday. The qualifications of the candidates proposed by Vivendi are unquestionable, Telecom Italia said.

Last week a group of Telecom Italia shareholders expressed concern about Vivendi’s request for four seats on its board, saying the French media company hasn’t provided clear information about its strategy for the Italian phone operator. The group of Italian and foreign shareholders includes APG Asset Management NV, Legal & General Investment Management Ltd., Standard Life Investments Ltd., and a JPMorgan Chase & Co. asset management unit.

Shareholders at the Dec. 15 meeting also will vote on the company’s proposal to convert savings stock into common shares. Under the plan, Telecom Italia would offer a voluntary one-for-one exchange. The move could raise about 570 million euros ($606 million) because holders of that stock would have to pay a cash conversion fee of 9.5 cents a share.

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