Vivendi chairman Vincent Bollore (pictured) said the French media company has no plans to be an operator, insisting its €3 billion investment in Telecom Italia forms part of its content strategy.
Vivendi is the Italian operator’s largest shareholder with 24.7 per cent holding, and Bollore has significantly stepped up the company’s influence in the operator in the last six months, successfully appointing four executives to its board.
The group also reportedly clashed with long term CEO Marco Patuano over strategy, which is thought to have to have led to his departure.
Bollore however told the Financial Times in an interview the investment should not be confused with Vivendi’s core business.
“We are in telecoms but it is complementary to content,” he said. “We don’t want to be an operator. We don’t want, industrially speaking, to manage a telecoms company. We manage content… we don’t manage Telecom Italia and we will never manage it.”
Part of Bollore’s strategy in Italy became clearer when he followed up its investment in Telecom Italia with a partnership with local broadcaster Mediaset, taking a 3.5 per cent stake in the broadcaster and full control of its pay-TV business.
Critics have however questioned Bollore’s direct investment in Telecom Italia, reports FT, suggesting that it may have been better served to strike a commercial agreement for its content play.
Bollore however defended the deal, stating it had helped “develop privileged relationships”, and also aided the Mediaset agreement.
He also squashed suggestions the investment was designed to promote the company towards becoming a takeover target, should wider European consolidation in the telecoms market occur.
“We don’t want to sell, we are happy in Italy and we are happy as a long term shareholder,” he said.
In its home market of France, Bollore reportedly said he wants to strike a deal with Orange, or Xavier Niel’s Free.