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Elliott Wins Glass Lewis Support in Telecom Italia Fight

Elliott Management Corp.’s effort to oust Vivendi SA directors from the board at Telecom Italia SpA has won support from a prominent shareholder advisory firm.

Glass Lewis & Co. urged investors in the Italian telecommunications company to vote for Elliott’s slate of six directors at its annual general meeting set for April 24.

“In our opinion, an overarching concern for shareholders in this contest is the company’s lackadaisical approach to communicating with Telecom Italia share owners,” Glass Lewis said in its report Saturday. “We believe investors should be catalyzed by an opportunity to support a crucial reshaping of the board in a manner that will significantly roll back Vivendi’s representation and portend additional mitigating changes.”

Elliott, the sometimes-activist fund run by billionaire Paul Singer, holds a 5.75 percent stake in Telecom Italia. It’s criticized the company’s strategy and share performance under the influence of Vivendi, which owns 24 percent of Telecom Italia’s common shares and is its largest stockholder. The New York-based hedge fund is attempting to wrest control of the company from the French media company.

Representatives for Elliott and Telecom Italia weren’t immediately available for comment outside of regular business hours.

Elliott has said it wants Telecom Italia to separate and sell part of the company’s grid -- with Telecom Italia keeping a stake. It’s also urging it to sell all or part of its sub-sea cable division, as well as advocating for debt reduction and the reintroduction of a dividend.

Italian state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti SpA said Thursday that it approved plans to buy a stake in Telecom Italia, potentially becoming a key player in Vivendi’s fight with Elliott. The lender said it will acquire no more than 5 percent of Telecom Italia.

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