* Vivendi creates new role to bolster group
* Genish stepped down as Telefonica Brasil CEO in Oct
* Task will be to connect Vivendi assets more closely
* Expansion in southern Europe key pillar of strategy
(Adds details, context)
By Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Mathieu Rosemain
SAO PAULO/PARIS, Jan 5 Vivendi has
tapped Amos Genish, the former head of Telefonica's
Brazil unit, to lead efforts to converge the French media
company's content, platforms and media distribution strategies.
The move comes as Vivendi, led by billionaire and corporate
raider Vincent Bollore, has been building up its stake in
Italian broadcaster Mediaset as part of a strategy to
expand in southern Europe.
European media and telecoms groups are betting on the
convergence of TV content with Internet and phone services as
they face increasing competition from online providers such as
Netflix and Amazon.
Genish's task will be to foster greater collaboration
between Vivendi's wide range of assets in the newly created role
of chief convergence officer, which the French group announced
late on Wednesday.
Bollore has made no secret of his intentions to create a
southern European powerhouse able to compete with the likes of
Time Warner and Rupert Murdoch, whose Twenty-First
Century Fox struck a $14.6 billion deal last month to
buy European pay-TV firm Sky, uniting a media empire
across two continents.
Since becoming Vivendi's chairman in 2014, Bollore has hired
and fired top management and taken key strategic decisions,
including the company's big bet on Telecom Italia, in
which Vivendi built up a 24 percent stake, becoming the biggest
Genish, 56, an Israeli citizen, sold Brazilian phone carrier
GVT SA to Vivendi in 2009. He became CEO of Telefonica Brasil
after Vivendi sold GVT to the local unit of Spain's
Telefónica SA in 2015.
Under his tenure, Telefónica Brasil grew at the expense of
rivals and became Brazil's most profitable carrier in spite of
the worst recession in more than eight decades.
He stepped down as CEO in October, citing unspecified
Vivendi's stake building in Mediaset has riled the Italian
government amid concerns that Bollore, who is influential in
Telecom Italia's strategy and is a key shareholder in Italian
bank Mediobanca, could end up with even greater
influence in Italy's corporate world.
Vivendi said last month that it now controls 29.94 percent
of Mediaset's voting rights along with 28.8 percent of the
company's share capital - just below the 30 percent stake at
which a full bid for Mediaset would be required.
Vivendi, whose biggest unit is French broadcaster Canal Plus
Group, also acquired French mobile video games maker Gameloft
last year and has built up a 25 percent stake in Gameloft's
larger sister company Ubisoft.
Genish will be based in London and Paris, Vivendi said in
its statement announcing his appointment.
Telefónica Brasil said on Wednesday that Genish had resigned
from the company's board, turning his seat over to José María
Del Rey Osorio. He also quit his post as head of the company's
He was replaced as CEO in October by Eduardo Navarro.
(Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Bruno Federowski;
Editing by Susan Fenton)