Vivendi set to appeal regulator ruling over TIM influence

Vivendi is reportedly set to appeal a decision by Italy’s market regulator which found the French firm has de facto control over Telecom Italia, which operates as TIM.

Vivendi has repeatedly denied claims that it has any decision-making powers at the Italian incumbent, despite the fact that earlier this year it installed nine of the operators 15 board members, despite having just a 24% stake in TIM.

Consob, the Italian securities market regulator, ruled that Vivendi does have de facto control over TIM, putting pressure on the French media company, with the Italian government assessing whether to exercise special powers over TIM.

“Consob has concluded that Vivendi’s stake in TIM should be considered a de facto controlling stake,” the watchdog said on Wednesday.

Rome is looking to assess whether Vivendi failed to notify it of its effective control of the company when it boosted its shareholding to 24% earlier in the year. One key question being discussed is whether Telecom Italia, as an important strategic national asset, as fallen under control. Notably, Sparkle, TIM’s wholesale division, is viewed as a particularly sensitive asset, given its global reach.

Another issue in the dispute is Vivendi’s stake in Italian media firm Mediaset. Regulator AGCOM has called on the French firm to cut its share in either TIM or Mediaset, warning to maintain a large holding in both breaches Italian rules around the concentration of power.

According to Reuters, Vivendi has submitted a plan to appease AGCOM, which will see it take a number of measures, including transferring a stake of at least 19.19% of Mediaset shares to an independent vehicle.

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