The activist investment fund Elliott Advisors has issued a statement urging fellow shareholders in Telecom Italia (TIM) to back its plans for the telco. Since last year US-owned Elliott has been at loggerheads with TIM’s largest investor, Vivendi of France, over the future direction of the operator. Elliott won control of TIM’s board in a shareholder vote in May last year, enabling it to nominate ten of the 15-member board. It now faces a challenge to its position, however, with a vote to be held at a shareholder meeting on 29 March, with Vivendi keen to regain its influence at TIM.
The Elliott statement says that shareholders have a clear choice in the vote, ‘a choice between stability and the continued recovery of company value, or a return to Vivendi’s poor stewardship with its broken promises, track record of prolonged and pervasive value destruction, and contempt for good governance’. Elliott claims that Vivendi’s interests are ‘visibly misaligned with those of fellow investors’ and with the health of TIM.
Vivendi, meanwhile, has claimed ‘irregularities in governance at Telecom Italia’ under Elliott’s watch, while it has raised questions over the true independence of the Elliott-nominated board members. It says: ‘These concerns reinforce Vivendi’s belief that TIM shareholders must put in place a truly independent board at the 29 March shareholders’ meeting. Such a board would re-establish the necessary governance conditions and safeguards to allow for proper stewardship of the company for the benefit of all shareholders, employees and other stakeholders.’