TIM CEO steps down to improve chances of acquisition by KKR

Luigi Gubitosi, CEO and GM of the artist formerly known as Telecom Italia, has had his resignation accepted by the TIM board.

This move was rumoured late last week and is the latest twist in the corporate tug of war over the fate of Italian operator group TIM. It comes after private equity firm KKR made a takeover bid for TIM a week ago and substantial minority shareholder Vivendi indicated it’s not interested in selling, at least not at the offer price.

For reasons that still aren’t too clear, Gubitosi’s resignation seems to have been a precondition for the board taking a proper look at the KKR bid. It has something to do with the perpetually stroppy Vivendi, which was reported to prefer TIM Brasil boss Pietro Labriola at the helm after it lost yet another attempt to get rid of Gubitosi a couple of weeks ago. You’ll never guess who the new GM is.

“I would like to express great satisfaction with the appointment of Pietro Labriola as TIM’s new General Manager, on my own behalf and on that of the entire board,” said TIM Chairman Salvatore Rossi. “This appointment once again demonstrates the value of the company management and its ability to reward skills, merit and innovation.” Yeah, sure. There doesn’t seem to be a new CEO yet, indicating they intend to split the role. Meanwhile Gubitosi is still on the board.

It’s all a bit of a mess, isn’t it? At time of writing there didn’t seem to be any public comment from competing shareholders Vivendi and Elliott. TIM says is has now set up ‘an ad hoc committee’ consisting of Rossi and the following board members, who are classed as ‘independent’: Paola Sapienza, Paolo Boccardelli, Marella Moretti and Ilaria Romagnoli.

They will presumably now lock themselves in a windowless room until they have a unanimous position on the KKR bid, which they will then announce, although they gave no indication of timescales. If the recommendation is to accept it then shareholders will have to decide how to respond. Vivendi will probably just reject it, but a more constructive response would be to name a price.

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