TIM board appoints one of its own as new CEO in place of Genish

19 November 2018 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Less than a week after firing Amos Genish as CEO, the board of TIM has appointed former Wind CEO Luigi Gubitosi to take over.

The decision means Elliott Management, the US-based activist investor group, has completed its takeover of control of the former Telecom Italia from Vivendi, the French media group that is still officially the biggest shareholder.

Elliott nominated Gubitosi and a number of other directors to the TIM board in May, but the new board elected then decided to retain Genish, a former Vivendi executive, in place as CEO – until he was fired last week.

The Reuters news agency says the coup took place when Genish was meeting Samsung in South Korea. Genish dialled into the board meeting after being summoned by WhatsApp.

It seemed clear at the time TIM announced Genish’s dismissal that the board had a successor lined up – and so it did, by appointing one of its own members.

Gubitosi joined Wind as CFO in 2005 and was CEO from 2007 to 2011, during the period it was owned by VimpelCom – now Veon.

Though he has been a non-executive director of TIM since May 2018, he has been a CEO-in-waiting since 2016, when he was one of the names being suggested as a potential replacement for the then CEO, Marco Patuano.

After leaving Wind, Gubitosi spent a few months as a banker, as country manager and head of corporate and investment banking at the Italian branch of Bank of America Merrill Lynch. He then spent three years as general manager of Rai, the Italian state broadcaster. But he has spent the bulk of his career in senior positions at Fiat.

He has studied at the London School of Economics, Naples University and Insead, the French business school. He has his own website, though no one has updated it since 2017. 

Elliott has given few clues about what its strategy might be. Last month the company appointed the Rothschild bank to look at options for Sparkle – though a sale can be only to an Italian owner, as the government regards the wholesale unit as critical infrastructure.

But one other strong possibility is that the company’s national infrastructure is demerged and perhaps combined with Open Fiber’s. State investment unit Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) is a significant shareholder in TIM and has 50% of Open Fiber.