TIM agrees to Vivendi content tie-up, funny that

The Telecom Italia Board of Directors has announced the approval of a joint venture with Canal+. We’ve seen less surprising developments.

The joint venture will see the creation of a content proposition with Vivendi’s pay-TV unit Canal+, which the pair claim will speed up the development of fibre connectivity. What this offering will actually look like and how it will help fibre developments specifically remain to be seen, but it is perhaps another slight indication of Vivendi’s influence at TIM.

“With this transaction, TIM is taking an important step forward in the strategy of convergence between telecommunications and media”, said TIM CEO, Amos Genish. “The joint venture with Canal+ will in fact allow us to seize new opportunities for growth in a market undergoing continuous evolution through a commercial offer of fibre connectivity combined with premium video content.”

While the Vivendi stake remains at 24%, the business does seem to be wielding a considerable amount of influence. We’re not necessarily saying heading down the content route is a bad idea, though the strategy does seem to have more of a French flavour than an Italian one. Vivendi CEO and TIM Chairman Arnaud de Puyfontaine certainly is one of the more ambitious businessmen in the content world, and this drive seems to be rubbing off on TIM.

The Board of Directors for the joint venture will be made up of five, with TIM appointing three and Vivendi two, with the CEO being selected from one of the TIM-appointed directors. For those who would argue TIM is more than a de Puyfontaine puppet, this is an encouraging split, but when you factor in the fact 10 of the 15 TIM Board Members are Vivendi nominees, the slant does seem to tip more towards France once again.

The Italian government has finally decided to get involved in the situation as of last week, but whether the saga has become too complicated to get a firm handle on remains to be seen. This is certainly an additional development which Rome will have to factor into an already complex equation.

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