Vivendi feud with the TIM board flares up again

Telecom Italia isn’t having an easy time of it so major investor Vivendi has apparently started moaning again.

It’s been a while since we checked in on TIM’s boardroom soap opera. Back in 2019 a sullen truce was agreed after Vivendi’s attempts to control the company without going to the hassle and expense of buying it were scuppered by the intervention of activist investor outfit Elliott. At the time Vivendi reluctantly decided to give the TIM top brass appointed by Elliott the benefit of the doubt.

Two-and-a-half years later the TIM share price is at a historic low following recent profit warnings and Vivendi, which owns almost a quarter of the company, is entitled to ask for an explanation. According to a Reuters report, this renewed boardroom tension came to a head yesterday in some kind of ‘showdown’, in which we’re told Vivendi once more tried, and failed, to depose CEO Luigi Gubitosi.

It seems the rest of the market increasingly supports Vivendi’s position that Gubitosi’s current strategy is rubbish, as TIM’s share price fell by a further 5% on the news. They presumably didn’t derive much comfort from the short statement issued by TIM after the emergency board meeting, reproduced in full below.

TIM’s Board of Directors met today at the request of some directors under the chairmanship of Salvatore Rossi, and examined the difficult market context and the challenges facing the Company in terms of strategy, company performance and organization, also in view of the preparation of the 2022-2024 Strategic Plan.

The Board of Directors also defined the path to prepare and share the 2022-2024 Strategic Plan to be approved at the Board meeting next February. Lastly, the Company reminds that no negotiations are in progress regarding the network or other strategic assets.

Given the apparent failure of the previous strategy, TIM investors can be forgiven for anticipating the unveiling of a new cunning plan next year with some scepticism. What would be achieved by getting rid of Gubitosi, however is less clear. The last part of the TIM statement infers some stakeholders would like to see TIM flog some of the family silver but even that just feels like a sticking plaster.

Having once more been thwarted in its machinations we would be surprised to see Vivendi take this one lying down. Expect leaks and furtive briefings to the press between now and the next board meeting but, with Elliott having dealt with that sort of thing so expertly a few years ago, it’s hard to see the outcome of the rematch being any different.

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