Telecom Italia named state industry veteran Flavio Cattaneo as its CEO, replacing Marco Patuano, who left the company last week.
Cattaneo, the current chief executive of Italian railway company NTV, is also a Telecom Italia board member, and had been widely tipped to succeed Patuano, who departed after reportedly clashing with Vivendi, the operator’s largest shareholder.
According to Reuters, the decision to appoint Cattaneo was unanimous, with his political connections, strong track record in regulated industries, and close ties with companies of interest to Vivendi the key arguments made during a two hour board meeting held yesterday.
In the past, Cattaneo has served as director general at broadcaster RAI and CEO of power grid operator Terna, and he is also reportedly well connected to Silvio Berlusconi, who owns broadcaster Mediaset.
Mediaset’s pay-TV operation is said to be of particular interest to Vivendi, as part of its wider ambitions to establish Telecom Italia as both a telecoms and content business.
Patuano’s departure came as the need for turnaround at the struggling operator became more apparent in recent months, adds The Wall Street Journal, with tensions heightening after Vivendi gained four seats on the Telecom Italia board in December.
Guiseppe Recchi, who has served as interim CEO since Patuano’s departure, is expected to work closely with Cattaneo, and could have more power than he previously did.
Recchi reportedly spent the past week attempting to convince Cattaneo to take the role.
The new CEO is now expected to address the fate of Telecom Italia’s Brazilian unit TIM Participacoes, which caused particularly discord between Patuano and Vivendi, and the sale of a stake in tower unit Inwit.