PARIS / MILAN, February 24 (Reuters) – The largest shareholder of Telecom Italia, Vivendi, said Sunday that would support a merger between the Italian operator and the Open Fiber in the fixed network if conditions are met. .
The French media and entertainment group has re-launched its attacks on American activist fund Elliott, the second largest shareholder of TIM with just under 10% of the capital.
Both opponents struggle with ways to recover Italy's telecommunications operator that leads to a debt of more than 25 billion euros.
Elliott recommends a division of the TIM network and to combine with Open Fiber – an idea also protected by the Italian government – although Vivendi wants to see the group retains control of its main asset.
"For Vivendi, the fixed network is at the heart of creating TIM value," reads a document available on the French group's website.
"Vivendi is willing to support the merger of Open Fiber and TIM if the conditions are good and fair in an operational, financial and regulatory position and if this combination is overseen by a board that is & Is managed by independent directors ".
Open Fiber is managed jointly by the Italian public organization Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) and the Italian energy group.
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March 29 TIM's general meeting is to vote on the Vivendi proposal to abolish five of the board members' directors from the Elliott Activists Fund list and put five independent directors in place, Vivendi said in a statement. press release.
"The negligence of the board appointed by Elliott has weakened the financial position of TIM," adds a group of French media and entertainment in the document. "The value for shareholders has destroyed and the risks have increased."
For Vivendi, the future composition of the board will "restore to TIM the conditions and safeguards needed to get adequate control and fulfill its promises".
"It should also allow the board to operate more efficiently and consistently," said the French company.
On Thursday, Telecom Italia is committed to accelerating the reduction in costs, increasing return to shareholders and increasing its profit from 2020 under the leadership of its new managing director Luigi Gubitosi.
Its new strategic plan for 2019-2021 aims to convince investors that the group can adjust its share price and face the advent of new competitors, in essence, Open Fiber to the optical fiber network and low cost mobile phone offer Launched in Italy by the French Iliad.
The money of the old Italian telecommunication monopoly has undermined the 2.4 billion euros – much more than what was originally planned – placed on the board to have its fifth generation frequencies.
TIM intends to reorganize its operations on its domestic market, investing 3 billion euros per annum. He also plans to expand its operations in Brazil and intend to launch a number of strategic initiatives to create value.
On the stock market, Telecom Italia's share has earned 11.28% since the beginning of the year, but over twelve months, the stock has lost almost 25% worth it. (Caroline Pailliez and Matthieu Protard in Paris and Stephen Jewkes in Milan edited by Henri-Pierre André)