UPDATED 14.50 GMT: Marco Patuano, Telecom Italia (TI) CEO, stepped down following reported clashes with Vivendi, the largest single shareholder in the Italy-based operator.
In a statement, TI confirmed Patuano had handed in his resignation, which will “become effective subject to the relevant corporate bodies’ approval of the pertaining terms and conditions”.
Vivendi became a shareholder in TI after selling its GVT arm in Brazil to Telefonica, a deal which saw it taking on shares in TI held by the Europe and Latin America operator group.
Since then, the French company, run by influential chairman Vincent Bollore, has steadily raised its stake in the company to nearly 25 per cent, as well as securing significant board representation.
This, reports said, has lead to it looking to exert influence over TI’s domestic strategy, as well as its plans for TIM Participacoes, Brazil’s second largest operator.
The Brazil situation has proved a vital sticking point, with Bollore reportedly favouring a sale, but Patuano considering it a strategic asset.
Earlier this month, an effort to merge TIM with Brazilian fixed-line giant Oi came to nothing, leading to speculation that Bollore was growing tired with Patuano’s lack of progress.
Market watchers suggest Patuano’s exit could now lead to an accelerated sale of the Brazilian unit by Vivendi, which will see reinvestment into the company’s Italian operations.
Chairman Guiseppe Recchi will reportedly assume Patuano’s duties until a replacement is appointed.
The CEO of Italian railway company NTV and Telecom Italia board member Flavio Cattaneo is favourite to succeed Patuano, according to sources.
Patuano could be in line to receive a severance packet of up to €7 million, according to reports.