TIM CEO rumoured to step down after only a year in charge

The potentially controversial Vivendi seizure of power at TIM is almost complete, as rumours circulate that CEO Flavio Cattaneo is heading towards the door.

According to Bloomberg, Cattaneo is looking for an exit on his own terms, apparently worried about the damage which could be done to his reputation through managing TIM. The sources have stated that Cattaneo is not happy he is unable to run the telco in his own way, with an exit suggesting he is worried over being the figurehead of an organization which is being increasingly influenced by the French group.

The majority of this saga is being played out behind closed doors, though rumours are beginning to emerge of a rift between Cattaneo and Vivendi, which is miffed about recent politically charged comments from the CEO. Spokespeople have denied any tensions, though Bloomberg sources have hinted Cattaneo will be exiting the telco once the financials have been reported at the end of the month.

Cattaneo has been relatively bullish over the last couple of weeks, almost going as far of accusing the Italian government of favouring competitors in the tender process for its rural network roll-out. This accompanied by a closer inspection of activities at TIM from the Italian competition watchdog, ends a tough couple of weeks for the CEO.

The last few months have been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for the Italian telco, as Vivendi snuck more and more friendlies into the board room. Despite limited experience in the telco area Cattaneo was appointed as CEO following the ousting of the previous one, and it was tempting to come to the conclusion that he would be sympathetic to Vivendi’s plans for the company. Should the reports prove to be true, Vivendi execs might have to go knocking on Geppetto’s door for a new puppet to run TIM.

Back in March, Vivendi increased its stake in TIM to 24.9%, just short of the amount it would require for a formal takeover, though the number of representative on the Board does seem a bit disproportional. It does seem like it might be a bit of a sly, penny-pinching move to gain control of the telco, but regulators haven’t really complained so far. The wash-out of TIM did seem complete, but Cattaneo doesn’t seem as accommodating as some might have assumed.

This is of course a rumour, but it would certainly add an interesting twist to the saga should it turn out to be true. The financials are set to be announced on July 27, so we don’t have that long to wait.

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