Elliott and Vivendi fight over Telecom Italia

TELECOM ITALIA is no stranger to shareholder feuds. Two years after it was privatised in 1997 Italy’s national operator, also known as TIM, was the subject of a hostile takeover which left it saddled with so much debt that it never fully recovered. It has gone through four chief executives in four years. Ownership of the company, which has a market value of €11bn ($12bn), is fragmented and unstable. On March 29th instability was expected to be on display once again at a general meeting. Shareholders were due to vote on a proposal by Vivendi, a French media conglomerate which owns 23.9% of TIM, to replace five directors put forward last May by Elliott, an American activist-investor fund with a 9.5% stake. The spat shows how corporate Italy is changing.

One novelty is the nature of the antagonists. Both are newish shareholders; neither is Italian. Vincent Bolloré, who controls Vivendi, began building a stake in TIM in 2015, as part of a strategy to create a southern European media giant. Fellow billionaire Paul Singer of Elliott started amassing his fund’s stake last year (his fund also has a stake in Hyundai—see article). Rules enacted in the past decade to strengthen minority shareholders’ rights, for instance by allowing them to appoint board members, have made...

via Business Feeds

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