24 April 2018
| Alan Burkitt-Gray
Elliott group, the activist shareholders in Telecom Italia (TIM), cannot put forward its own slate of directors until next month – at the company’s second shareholders’ meeting in 10 days.
A court ruled yesterday that shareholders will not vote on a
complete new board until 4 May, when US-based Elliott will test
its strength against that of the biggest shareholder, French
media group Vivendi.
Shareholders will today meet with a more limited agenda
following the court ruling. They will review the annual report
and TIM’s financial performance, and will be asked
to reappoint Amos Genish, the Vivendi executive who has been
CEO since last year.
Vivendi is the biggest shareholder by far, while the Elliott
group controls 9% but is thought to have influenced other
shareholders. Meanwhile Italy’s state investment
unit Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) has built up 4.78%.
Meanwhile the French newspaper Le Monde today reports that
police are questioning Vivendi’s chairman until
last week Vincent Bolloré, who handed over the role to
his son Yannick. The elder Bolloré is being asked about
contracts for container ship terminals in Guinea and Togo in
west Africa, says the newspaper.
Elliott has nominated its own slate of
directors, mainly Italian businesspeople, and as a response
the Vivendi-backed directors resigned en masse, to force a
battle. Elliott hoped that the issue would be resolved today,
and TIM’s court of auditors supported that move
– but TIM and Vivendi appealed against their decision
and yesterday the Italian court agreed.
The Italian government’s position is not yet
known. It is known to be wary about the fact that
TIM’s critical national infrastructure –
and Sparkle’s international infrastructure
– is controlled by a foreign company. TIM has agreed to separate out its national
infrastructure into a new company, though still owned by
TIM. Sparkle’s future is known to be under