(Adds sources on chairman, background)
By Stefano Rebaudo
ROZZANO, Italy May 4 French media group Vivendi
tightened its grip on Telecom Italia on
Thursday by appointing 10 directors out of 15 to the board of
the Italian company.
A Telecom Italia shareholder meeting approved the slate of
board candidates submitted by Vivendi, which is Telecom Italia's
top shareholder, with 49.4 percent of votes in favour. Italian
fund association Assogestioni appointed the remaining five board
The new board, whose size was reduced to 15 from 17, is set
to choose a chairman from among its members at a meeting
scheduled for Friday.
Vivendi, which has a 24 percent stake in Telecom Italia, put
its CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine top of its list of candidates for
the company's board, which in Italy usually indicates the
However, three sources close to the matter told Reuters
Friday's board meeting was likely to confirm the current
chairman, Giuseppe Recchi, in the job for now as Vivendi awaits
a European ruling about its sway over Telecom Italia.
Recchi also featured on Vivendi's list of candidates, which
included the French company's finance chief Herve Philippe and
General Counsel Frederic Crepin.
The choice of Telecom Italia's next chairman is politically
sensitive because it could aggravate concerns in Rome about
Vivendi's growing influence over Italian companies.
Vivendi - which says its stake in Telecom Italia is part of
its strategy to build a southern European media empire - filed
a pre-emptive notification to the European Commission on March
31, saying that after the shareholder meeting it could de facto
control Telecom Italia.
The Commission is due to rule on the matter by May
The French group's influence over the Italian telecoms group
has come under the spotlight after it took a 29 percent holding
in Italian broadcaster Mediaset, leading to speculation
over whether it planned to combine the two companies.
That angered Fininvest, the investment holding of the family
of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, and raised concerns
in Rome about Vivendi chairman Vincent Bollore's ambitions.
Bollore is also a key shareholder in influential Italian
investment bank Mediobanca, which controls insurer
Italy's communications watchdog AGCOM last month ordered
Vivendi to cut its stake in either Telecom Italia or Mediaset
within a year, saying it was in breach of rules designed to
prevent a concentration of power in the telecoms and media
(Writing by Agnieszka Flak and Silvia Aloisi; Editing by Mark