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Italian regulator says Vivendi does have de facto control of TIM

Couple about to watch TV

Vivendi’s insistence that it’s only lightly flirting with Italian operator TIM has been refuted by the Italian securities regulator.

TIM is in fact under the ‘de facto’ control of the French conglomerate, insist Consob, more like a suffocating spouse than a benign suitor. Vivendi may well have been anticipating this when its CEO protested too much at the company’s recent earnings call. Vivendi only owns a quarter of the share capital of TIM but has managed to use that position to dominate its board.

So pervasive is Vivendi’s influence over TIM that the latter consistently defends it against accusations of domineering. “On the basis of a preliminary perusal, the act is significantly in contrast with the uncontroversial and consistent approach with reference to corporate control, that TIM (and presumably the entire market) has constantly and consistently relied upon,” said a TIM announcement.

“The company will take all appropriate legal actions in order to defend its interests, and is confident its conducts are correct and its arguments are strong.” It might as well have said “I brought it on myself – Vivendi has been working really hard and I need to try harder not to upset it when it gets home late.”

Vivendi was its usual haughty, imperious self in response to the finding. “Vivendi formally contests that interpretation and will appeal to the competent courts,” it said in a statement, as if it doesn’t already have enough to deal with. “The group reiterates that it has always complied with applicable law and regulations.”

Ultimately the Italian government needs to make a ruling on the matter, but it remains strange that apparent control over the senior leadership of a company can be considered anything other than ‘de facto control’. You can access the full ruling here if you feel like practicing your Italian.


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