Vivendi said to be looking for further control over Telecom Italia

French conglomerate Vivendi is thinking of making its own Chief Exec – Arnaud de Puyfontaine – Chairman of Telecom Italia, according to a Reuters report.

Vivendi owns 24.9% of TIM’s (the artist formerly known as Telecom Italia) shares, the maximum allowed before a formal takeover bid is required, and seems to have adopted a strategy of controlling the company without having to buy it. A year ago it installed de Puyfontaine as deputy Chairman, a move that apparently played a part in the resignation of the CEO.

The TIM board apparently comes up for renewal in May, which is a clear opportunity for Vivendi to further increase its control of the company. A quarter of the board its already occupied by its own people and it seems like the rest are acutely aware of what happens when you don’t tow the Vivendi line.

Reuters cites multiple sources for the rumour, and was unable to get formal comment from either company. While Vivendi may be able to manipulate the TIM board, there must surely come a time when Italian regulators demand it either makes a full takeover bid or stop mucking about with a company of which it only owns a quarter.

Even TIM’s own auditors are flagging up this issue, according to another Reuters report, with current Chairman flagging up Vivendi’s ability to control other board members to the Italian Senate. Vivendi has also been amassing a significant minority position in Italian media giant Mediaset, and seems to be trying to become an Italian multiplay giant by stealth.

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