Vivendi CEO to chair Telecom Italia, but won’t supervise Sparkle

Vivendi CEO to chair Telecom Italia, but won’t supervise Sparkle

French media company Vivendi has appointed its CEO, Arnaud de Puyfontaine, as executive chairman of the board of Telecom Italia.

The move comes only four weeks after Vivendi, which owns 24% of the Italian operator, decided to leave existing chairman Giuseppe Recchi in place. Now Recchi is demoted to deputy chairman.

But it looks as though Recchi will still supervise Sparkle, the wholesale arm of Telecom Italia. The group operates in the Italian and Brazilian retail market as TIM.

Telecom Italia said: “The current responsibilities and powers assigned to the executive chairman have all been confirmed … with the exception of supervision of security matters and the company TI Sparkle.”

It added: “The deputy chairman has been assigned deputy functions.” Flavio Cattaneo remains the CEO of the group and Alessandro Talotta remains chairman and CEO of Sparkle.

Vivendi said after the board meeting that confirmed the appointment of de Puyfontaine: “As Telecom Italia’s largest shareholder, Vivendi intends to pursue a long term-policy focused on development in content convergence. The group welcomes the appointment of Arnaud de Puyfontaine, who will continue to serve as Vivendi’s chief executive officer.”

De Puyfontaine is 53 and has worked in the media industry since 1990. He was executive director of the Figaro newspaper and later became CEO of magazine publisher Emap France. In 2009 he became CEO of the UK subsidiary of the US publisher Hearst.

He has been CEO and chairman of the management board of Vivendi since 2014. Vivendi owns Universal Music, the Canal+ pay-TV group, Dailymotion and a number of other media businesses.

It owned French mobile operator SFR until 2013 when it sold a majority stake to Altice. Vivendi then started building up its stake in Telecom Italia. In 2014 it increased its stake to 14.9%, replacing Spain’s Telefónica as the Italian group’s largest shareholder.

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