Former CEO Riccardo Delleani is back at Sparkle as Alessandro Talotta departs

05 April 2018 | Alan Burkitt-Gray


Alessandro Talotta has left Sparkle, where he had been chairman and CEO for more than three years, following his nomination as a director of rival Italian carrier Retelit.

Delleani, Talotta, SparkleThe new CEO, appointed by the board of Sparkle, is Riccardo Delleani, currently CEO of Olivetti but a former CEO of Sparkle, Telecom Italia’s international wholesale division. Olivetti, once a typewriter and office equipment company, is now IT services division of Telecom Italia, which now trades as TIM. 

Sources at Sparkle refused to comment on or off the record when contacted by Capacity. Talotta has not replied to our questions about his departure.

Meanwhile the news agency Reuters is reporting this morning that the Italian state investment unit Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) is set to buy a 5% stake in TIM, worth around €575 million, in order to gain influence on TIM’s future. The Italian Treasury will take a decision on share purchase by CDP later today, said the agency.

Talotta has been nominated as a director of Retelit by Fiber 4.0, a newly set up company that in March took an 8.97% stake in Retelit. Fiber 4.0 is backed by banker Raffaele Mincione, who is also being nominated as president of the board of Retelit.

Two rival shareholders in Retelit, Shareholder Value Management and Axxion, want to keep the existing CEO, Federico Protto, and the existing president, Dario Pardi.

Retelit’s shareholders will meet on 27 April to vote on the board – a week before TIM shareholders will themselves gather to vote on a board. TIM’s biggest shareholder is French media company Vivendi, but a US-based activist investor, Elliott Management, is seeking to bring in a new board of directors at a shareholders’ meeting on 4 May. If the Italian government takes a stake of 5% or more it will have a powerful influence on the meeting.

Delleani was one of five directors appointed to Sparkle’s board at what the company called a [plural] “shareholders’ meeting” of Sparkle – though TIM is the only shareholder in Sparkle.

At the end of the meeting, the board appointed Stefano Siragusa as chairman and Delleani as CEO. Siragusa became chief infrastructure officer for TIM only last month, with responsibility for Sparkle as well as TIM Wholesale and Open Access as well as tower division Inwit. He previously spent two years as a senior partner at Bain and Company.

Delleani has spent three years as CEO at Olivetti, which is part of the TIM group. A TIM executive for at least 10 years, he became CEO of Sparkle in January 2012 and then chairman from March 2013 until July 2015 – more than a year after Talotta took over as CEO.

In an interview in Capacity in November 2012, Delleani said: “We are working to make sure that Sparkle continues to extract maximum value from traditional and commoditised market segments, while at the same time being a smart operator, moving towards a more IT-based arena. This means wider use of software to enable new services on the network.”

As well as Siragusa and Delleani, the other directors on the new Sparkle board are Roberto Moro, TIM’s head of tax affairs, Michela Mossini, head of group planning and control at TIM’s enterprise unit Impresa Semplice, and Ettore Spigno, TIM’s senior VP of business, engineering and service management.

Retelit did not respond to a request from Capacity for comment on the forthcoming shareholders’ meeting. The Fiber 4.0 group is understood to be talking to other shareholders ahead of the 27 April meeting.