JPMorgan Adds to Telecom Italia Stake as French Investors Circle

JPMorgan Chase & Co. boosted its stake in Telecom Italia SpA, the Italian phone carrier that’s attracting interest from French investors seeking to increase their influence over the company.

The U.S. bank has a holding equivalent to 10.1 percent of the Italian company, which includes call options and a previously disclosed stake of 4.5 percent, Italian market regulator Consob said in a filing. A JPMorgan representative in Frankfurt didn’t immediately have a comment.

French media company Vivendi SA, run by Chairman Vincent Bollore, has accumulated a stake topping 20 percent in Telecom Italia and is seeking four board seats as it expands video and music and distribution in southern Europe. Meanwhile, French billionaire Xavier Niel, the founder of broadband provider Iliad SA, has acquired securities equivalent to a holding of about 15.1 percent in Telecom Italia through his personal investment company.

Until earlier this year, Italy’s largest phone company had been controlled by Spain’s Telefonica SA and a group of Italian financial investors. Their replacement by the two French shareholders comes as Telecom Italia Chief Executive Officer Marco Patuano seeks to revive the company’s local business and sell assets to reduce a debt load of almost 27 billion euros ($29 billion).

Shares of Telecom Italia lost 1.7 percent to 1.17 euros at 9:41 a.m. in Milan.

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