Already Telecom Italia’s (TI) biggest shareholder after acquiring a 14.9 per cent stake in June, Vivendi acquired a further 5 per cent of TI’s shares “to develop its activities in southern Europe”.

“Vivendi has acquired an additional stake through an acquisition of shares on the market and now owns 19.9 per cent of Telecom Italia’s ordinary shares,” the company said in a statement.

The total acquisition price is €3.1 billion, it said, adding that the investment “confirms Vivendi’s intention to support the telecoms group over the long term”.

In July, Vivendi had said it was satisfied with its  14.9 per cent stake but may consider upping its holding in the future, while last month TI’s chairman denied negotiations were taking place to build Vivendi’s stake in the Italian incumbent.

The move to become the biggest shareholder came as a surprise as over the past two years the group had been selling off assets in telecoms companies to focus on content and media, but a spokesperson told Mobile World Live the strategy is part of an “opportunistic and pragmatic” approach.