Vivendi puts own man to top of TIM as Cattaneo leaves

Vivendi puts own man to top of TIM as Cattaneo leaves

Vivendi executive Amos Genish is now general manager for operations at TIM, at the end of a turbulent week in the Italian company.

Genish has been chief convergence officer at Vivendi, TIM’s biggest shareholder, since the start of 2017. He was previously CEO of Telefónica Brasil, competing with TIM Brasil.

TIM chairman Arnaud de Puyfontaine, who is also CEO of Vivendi, said this afternoon: “Amos is a confirmed leader in global telecommunications, contributing to creating value. He has a proven track record across different cultures and geographies. I’m confident that he will adapt very quickly to the Italian environment, as he did in Brazil.”

Genish effectively replaces Flavio Cattaneo, who ceases to be CEO of Telecom Italia today.

A report from HSBC earlier this week said that the reason Genish is not directly replacing Cattaneo is that “Genish is still subject to a non-competitive clause agreed when leaving Telefónica Brazil.” Cattaneo received a €25 million pay-off from TIM, which he joined in 2016.

HSBC senior telecoms analyst and director of equity research Luigi Minerva said: “For this reason he could not be group CEO (ie having TIM Brasil CEO report into him) and could not sit on TI’s board (where Brazil would normally be discussed).”

Minerva also pointed out that “being a non-Italian citizen, he could also not have the powers related to TI Sparkle [TIM’s wholesale arm] and issues of national security relevance”.

These powers are likely to be given to Giuseppe Recchi, the deputy chairman. “With these exceptions, [Genish] is likely to act as a de facto CEO. This would be an incrementally more complex governance arrangement than currently,” said Minerva in his note.

According to TIM this afternoon, “Genish has developed extensive experience in the field of telecommunications and technology in both the United States and Brazil, where he founded GVT, making it the main Brazilian operator in the ultra-broadband field in just a few years”.

Genish founded GVT in 1999, then sold it to Vivendi in 2009 for €2 billion. Three years ago Telefónica Brasil agreed to pay €9 billion to absorb GVT, including Genish as head of the combined operation.

He quit Telefónica “for personal reasons” in October 2016, only to turn up in Europe in January, personal reasons apparently resolved, to become chief convergence officer of Vivendi, which by then had built up its stake in Telecom Italia – it was, and is, the biggest shareholder, though others still own 76%. A share exchange that was part of the GVT acquisition meant Vivendi replaced Telefónica as the largest TIM shareholder.

Genish was to live in Paris and London, Vivendi said in January. Now TIM says he will move from London to Rome. The company added: “TIM is not aware Amos Genish owns any stake in the company’s share capital. His curriculum vitae will be posted on the company’s internet site.”

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