Telecom Italia shareholder Elliott Management effectively challenged French media company Vivendi to put up or shut up, as it responded to criticism over its running of the Italian operator.

In a statement, Elliott Management accused Vivendi of taking an unhelpful stance towards the business by being swift to “cast final judgement” on a board only appointed four months ago rather than work “toward constructive solutions”.

The activist investor also denied it had wrested control of Telecom Italia away from Vivendi, noting the operator is independently governed and the French company “still has significant representation on TIM’s board”.

“If Vivendi now takes the view that fresh ideas are needed, Elliott would welcome its help in promoting value-creative solutions at the board level,” it stated.

Share price
Elliott Management responded after Vivendi last week branded its management of Telecom Italia “disastrous” following a 35 per cent drop in the operator’s share price since the new board was appointed in early May.

A pledge by Elliott Management to double Telecom Italia’s share price over the next two years formed a key pillar of Vivendi’s argument, but the company denied making such “promises” to the market. “It is true that Elliott offered an assessment of the upside potential to the TIM share price over the medium term if a revised, independent board adopted Elliott’s value-creation recommendations.”

However, it noted the board is yet to implement any of its ideas and has instead “thus far adhered to Vivendi’s own approach”. Telecom Italia chairman Fulvio Conti made a similar observation in a statement sent to Mobile World Live shortly after Vivendi’s criticism, noting the board remained focused on implementing a strategy “outlined by Vivendi itself during its management”.

Elliott Management added Vivendi had appointed Telecom Italia’s CEO and CFO, and questioned how the French company could “avoid responsibility for the state of affairs at TIM when it was in charge for so long and the new board has been seated for so little time?”

The company asked Telecom Italia’s other shareholders to remain patient and give the new board time to “show that they can create value” in what is “obviously a difficult environment for Italian stocks and telcos in general”.