Italy’s minister for economic development, Carlo Calenda, waded into a war of words between Telecom Italia shareholders by slating Vivendi’s record at the helm of the operator, Reuters reported.
Citing la Repubblica, the news agency said the minister – who is scheduled to leave his post once political wrangling to form a new government in Italy is concluded – launched scathing criticism of the actions of France-based investor Vivendi.
While broadly in favour of non-domestic investment, Calenda said that does not mean standing aside when companies “destroy value” rather than create it.
The comments come ahead of a pivotal fortnight for Telecom Italia and amid an increasingly messy tussle between Vivendi, which currently controls the operator’s board, and activist investor Elliott Management.
Elliott Management is attempting to install independent directors to Telecom Italia’s board at an AGM on 24 April. The vote is scheduled to take place hours after the resignation of the majority of its current executive team.
Although the company’s auditors gave the green light for the election to go ahead, Vivendi last week vowed to open legal proceedings to block the vote in favour of an election to replace the whole board at a separate meeting on 4 May.
The latest row is the culmination of weeks of tension between Telecom Italia shareholders. Having previously called for the replacement of several Vivendi executives on the operator’s board, Elliot Management described the planned mass board resignation as a cynical attempt to buy time.
Vivendi argued the resignation of the majority of directors triggered a clause which requires a whole new executive team to be appointed at a later date. The company is expected to put forward a new slate of nominees for election in the proposed 4 May meeting.