Vivendi Says It's Not Planning to Merge With Telecom Italia

  • French media company says it shares Telecom Italia strategy
  • Vivendi's request for board seats to be voted Dec. 15

Vivendi SA, the French media company with a $10-billion cash pile for acquisitions, isn’t planning to seek a merger with Telecom Italia SpA and shares the Italian phone operator’s strategy to boost its ultra-broadband network in the country.

Responding to criticism from Italian and foreign investment funds, Vivendi said it’s not seeking to exercise excessive influence over the Italian company by requesting four seats on Telecom Italia’s board. The French company’s proposal “doesn’t call into question the work of the board.” Vivendi made the comments in a statement posted on its website.

Vivendi said it’s spent more than 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) to acquire its 20.1 percent stake in Telecom Italia, reiterating it has a "long-term view and approach" toward Italy’s biggest phone company. Vivendi said its request for increasing the number of directors at the Italian company would “enrich” the board and not damage its corporate governance.

The request by Vivendi, run by Chairman Vincent Bollore, will be discussed by investors at a Dec. 15 meeting. Vivendi has proposed 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, as new directors for Telecom Italia.

French billionaire Xavier Niel holds securities equivalent to a 15.1 percent stake in Telecom Italia through his personal investment vehicle.

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