MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s supreme court upheld a ruling which had annulled a market regulator’s resolution indicating French media group Vivendi was exercising ‘de facto control’ of Telecom Italia (TIM), a court document showed on Wednesday.
Italian market watchdog Consob ruled that Vivendi, TIM’s top shareholder with a 24% stake, took control of two-thirds of the Italian phone company’s board in 2017.
Activist fund Elliott eventually wrested control from Vivendi the following year.
In 2020, Italy’s top administrative court annulled the resolution of Consob, which subsequently appealed that decision.
Vivendi declined to comment. Consob did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The supreme court’s ruling came as Vivendi is calling for governance changes in Telecom Italia to better reflect the relative weight of shareholders.
The ruling, published on Tuesday, could give the French group the option to present its own list of candidates to win TIM’s board control without being compelled to consolidate the former phone monopoly’s financial accounts, including its 25.5 billion euro debt pile.
At present, no Vivendi’s representative sits on TIM’s board of directors, after the French group’s CEO left his seat earlier this month.
In 2021, Vivendi and Italy’s state lender CDP both backed a slate of candidates presented by TIM’s board.
The French group will resume talks on Thursday with the government and Telecom Italia’s No.2 investor CDP, over a revamp of the former phone monopoly centred on an asset split.
Parties involved in the talks failed to find common ground on key issues in a first round of negotiations in December, with asset valuations, debt and staff allocations remaining key issues, sources have said.
(Reporting by Elvira Pollina; Editing by Bernadette Baum)