PARIS (Reuters) – Vivendi has no “de facto control” over Telecom Italia under Italian law, the French media group said on Monday in response to a demand from Italy’s markets regulator.
Acknowledging “sole control” over Telecom Italia would compel Vivendi to consolidate its accounts, including an adjusted net financial debt of 25 billion euros ($29.6 billion).
Led by French billionaire Vincent Bollore, Vivendi has shaken up Telecom Italia’s governance since becoming its biggest shareholder, with a 24 percent stake, and placing two of its top executives at the helm.
However, Bollore’s growing influence has come under increased scrutiny from Italian authorities because the telecoms operator is considered a strategic asset by Rome.
“(Vivendi’s) participation in Telecom Italia is not sufficient enough to allow it to exercise, on a stable basis, a dominant influence at Telecom Italia shareholders’ meetings,” Vivendi said in a statement.
Vivendi, which has a market capitalization of 25.8 billion euros, issued the statement in response to a formal request from Italy’s markets watchdog Consob.
Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain; editing by Alexander Smith