TIM shareholders to vote on CEO as court delays battle with Elliott

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 consideration.

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