Vivendi "surprised" by Niel's TI move; long term plans unaffected - Mobile World Live

Vivendi “surprised” by Niel’s TI move; long term plans unaffected

02 NOV 2015

Vivendi said its long term plans for Telecom Italia (TI) remain unaffected by the news that tycoon Xavier Niel has now built up a position to own more than 15 per cent of the Italian incumbent.

Niel (pictured), founder of France’s low cost mobile operator Iliad,  caused a surprise by taking just over 11 per cent in the Italian incumbent last week, which Italian regulator Consob reportedly said had increased to the equivalent of more than a 15 per cent voting stake on Friday.

If exercised, Niel would become Telecom Italia’s second largest shareholder, behind Vivendi.

In an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Vivendi’s group CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine confirmed the French conglomerate had not acted in concert with Niel as he built up his stake, after Consob expressed concerns, while stating he did not believe the move was hostile.

“We were surprised when we found out Niel had built a position in Telecom Italia,” said Puyfontaine. “It was a real surprise but this doesn’t change Vivendi’s plans.”

Puyfontaine added that “no meeting with Niel is planned” over Telecom Italia, with the French tycoon yet to announce his future intentions for the stake.

His presence in the company does however mean Vivendi’s largest shareholder and fellow billionaire Vincent Bollore will have to take Niel into account as it plans to shape Telecom Italia’s future.

Puyfontaine also did not rule out the possibility of Vivendi increasing its stake in Telecom Italia in the future.

Separately, Telecom Italia chairman Guiseppe Recchi welcomed the surprise arrival of Niel as an investor in the company. Recchi told Corriere della Sera he had met with Niel over the weekend, and described him as a “very competent entrepreneur”.

“From the conversation we had, he sees the possibility of offering suggestions both for our business model, and operating efficiency in Brazil and Italy,” he said. “All investors are welcome by definition.”



Kavit Majithia

Kavit joined Mobile World Live in May 2015 as Content Editor. He started his journalism career at the Press Association before joining Euromoney’s graduate scheme in April 2010. Read More >>

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