Vivendi CEO not worried about Elliott’s move on Telecom Italia: paper

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MILAN (Reuters) – Activist fund Elliott’s acquisition of a stake in Telecom Italia (TIM) is not a cause of concern for the phone group and its main shareholder Vivendi, the TIM Chairman and Vivendi CEO said on Thursday in a newspaper interview.

FILE PHOTO – Vivendi’s Chief Executive Officer Arnaud de Puyfontaine gestures during 2018 Reuters Breakingviews Predictions event in Milan, Italy, January 31, 2018. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

Arnaud de Puyfontaine told Italian daily Il Messaggero he did not see Elliott’s move as an attack against Vivendi.

“By definition an activist fund’s approach implies a degree of disagreement with the way a company is run but we don’t know yet in detail what their intentions are,” de Puyfontaine said.

When asked about Elliott’s plan to ask for the TIM board to be changed and the business plan radically modified, he said the plan had been unanimously approved by the board.

“So we will be united in supporting it in the conviction it is the right one,” he said.

Elliott said on Tuesday it had built an unspecified stake in TIM and was ready to replace some members of the board to improve strategy and governance.

De Puyfontaine also said he ruled out the idea of a merger with broadband rival Open Fiber but said TIM was open to cooperation.

On TIM’s plans to spin off its fixed line network, he said the phone incumbent would continue to have a constructive dialogue with whatever Italian government took office following last Sunday’s elections.

The Vivendi CEO also reiterated that finding an agreement with broadcaster Mediaset on a legal dispute over a failed pay-TV deal “would make a lot of sense”.

Reporting by Stephen Jewkes