Former CEO Bernabé set to return to Telecom Italia board

10 April 2017 | Alan Burkitt-Gray


French media group Vivendi is proposing that former Telecom Italia CEO Franco Bernabé return to the Italian operator’s board at its annual shareholder meeting next month

Vivendi, which is the biggest shareholder with 24%, has included Bernabè in its slate of 10 candidates for board positions.

Bernabè resigned from Telecom Italia – which now operates in the consumer market as TIM, and also owns wholesale carrier Sparkle – in 2013 because the board refused to accept his strategic plan for the company.

It was understood at the time that he was proposing a strategic split between an infrastructure company, which would own the network, and a services company, which would sell fixed and mobile subscriptions to consumers.

In addition to Bernabè, Vivendi is nominating its CEO, Arnaud de Puyfontaine, to the board, along with its CFO, Hervé Philippe, and its general counsel, Frédéric Crépin.

Another executive on Vivendi’s list is a British executive, Anna Jones, who was COO of the Hearst publishing business when de Puyfontaine was CEO, and took over from him when he moved to Vivendi three years ago.

When Bernabè was last at Telecom Italia, the biggest shareholder was Telefónica and it was seen to be ready to take control of the company. Four years later it has been replaced by Vivendi, which also owns 30% of Italian media group Mediaset, though that is still controlled by the investment company of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Vivendi’s long term strategy for TIM remains unclear, though some conspiracy theorists believe it has a plan to sell the Italian operator to Orange, though Orange has denied a 'secret deal' with Vivendi.