TIM’s new management ‘disastrous’, says 24% shareholder Vivendi

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The chairman of TIM has hit back at last night’s stringent criticism by Vivendi of the management of the company since a new board took over in May.

Fulvio Conti, chairman of TIM since the shareholders’ meeting voted in the new board, said he was “deeply disappointed by the groundless and absurd accusations”, and said he rejected Vivendi’s claims.

Vivendi, the biggest shareholder in TIM with a 24% stake in the former Telecom Italia, issued a short but blistering statement on Wednesday evening, saying it was “deeply concerned by the disastrous management of Telecom Italia” since the 4 May meeting.

That was the occasion when activist shareholders led by US private equity group Elliott succeeded in their campaign to unseat many of the board members appointed by Vivendi – though Amos Genish, the CEO put in place by the French media company, remained in his role.

Vivendi said yesterday that “the stock market performance is dramatic”, with TIM’s share price dropping about 35% since 4 May, “and is at its lowest level in five years”. The company pointed out that, in a  position paper issued in April, “Elliott promised a doubling of the share price over the next two years”.

Vivendi added: “The new governance team is failing: the spreading of rumours (including [about] the departure of the CEO) is causing dysfunction that is harmful to the smooth operation and results of TIM.”

Conti said in response: “Since its appointment the board has been and still is focused on the execution of the strategic plan, outlined by Vivendi itself during its management.”

He said “TIM is a relevant player in Italy’s economy … [and is] able to confront the evolution of the market and competition.”

He poured scorn on what he called “the concentration of negative elements coming from the other side of the Alps” – in other words, France. These were “influencing the share price” and he said this was “paradoxical for Vivendi”.

Vivendi said it “remains convinced of TIM’s significant development potential”.