Telecom Italia wasted little time in appointing experienced Italian Flavio Cattaneo to the CEO role vacated when Marco Patuano resigned nine days ago.
Cattaneo was already an independent director of TIM, having had that role for two years. However he has little previous telecoms experience, having served as CEO of railway company NTV since February 2015 and prior to that as CEO of electricity company Terna for almost a decade. He’s also a serial independent director, having put in a shift on the board of several Italian companies over the years.
“The Chief Executive Officer Flavio Cattaneo has been assigned responsibility for the overall management of the Company and the Group, including responsibility for defining, proposing to the Board of Directors and then implementing and developing the strategic, industrial and financial plans and all the organisational responsibilities to ensure the management and development of business in Italy and South America,” said the TIM announcement.
In addition Board Chairman Giuseppe Recchi, who was appointed at the same time as Cattaneo joined the board, seems to have been given some extra powers, including the definition of overall group strategy in partnership with the CEO.
The big question, of course, is what all this means for Vivendi’s interests in TIM. Patuano had been effectively obliged to resign, having clashed with 24.9% shareholder Vivendi over strategy. Vivendi has four direct representatives on the TIM board, but the fact that it has been able to win a majority on previous board votes indicates it has other allies among the ‘independent’ members.
The whole process of appointing a new CEO seems to have been designed to accommodate Vivendi’s desire to transform TIM into a media-focused company, including a rumoured collaboration with Berlusconi-owned Mediaset. So it would be very surprising if Catteneo wasn’t already on-board with the grand plan.