Vivendi conditionally concedes defeat in TIM board battle

French conglomerate Vivendi withdrew its bid to replace five TIM board members at the 11th hour but doesn’t seem happy about it.

TIM shareholders were due to vote on Vivendi’s request to replace those board members it had identified as acting in bad faith last Friday. But at the meeting itself TIM CEO Luigi Gubitosi apparently had one last attempt to get Vivendi to back down and, amazingly, it did. Presumably it had realised it wasn’t going to win the vote and not to have it rather than suffer a humiliating defeat.

Here’s what Caroline Le Masne de Chermont, Vivendi Group Head of Legal Affairs (why do Vivendi execs all sound like aristocrats?), had to say at the meeting:

“As extensively expressed in our request, we asked the shareholders to vote for a change of governance, because what happened in and around the Board since last May has affected the stock price, and the whole functioning of the company.

“However, there is no point in revisiting here and now the events of the last year, particularly those that cannot be changed. Let’s focus instead on the changes we would like to see in the near future. Vivendi wishes TIM’s board to be more reflective of the company’s shareholder base and to be led in an independent, transparent and fully inclusive manner.

“To conclude, we are prepared to give credit to the CEO. Accordingly, following his suggestion, Vivendi has decided not to pursue today its proposal to revoke and replace five Board members, provided that this has the support of the shareholders’ meeting.

“What needs to occur next, may at this stage be left in the hands of the Board members and their individual conscience. What we can say is that if change does occur as the CEO announced, he can count on our loyal and stable support as the company’s largest shareholder.”

Essentially Vivendi seems to be conceding defeat, for now, in its battle to control the TIM board, but reserves the right to kick off again if the current board doesn’t start raising its game sharpish. Vivendi has presumably realised its open hostility to the TIM board isn’t a great look and its sudden conciliatory stance about letting bygones be bygones is just hilarious.

In response Elliott issued the following statement: “Elliott welcomes Vivendi’s decision to withdraw its request to shareholders to revoke five of TIM’s Directors, a clear sign that Vivendi understands that there is broad support for TIMs existing independent Board.

“This outcome is a victory for the company and paves the way for stability and sustained value creation for all of TIM’s stakeholders. Elliott remains fully supportive of CEO Luigi Gubitosi, the Company’s management team and the existing independent Board, and looks forward to constructive dialogue with all stakeholders to pursue a value maximising path forward for the company.”

Gubitosi himself apparently struck a cautiously conciliatory tone, calling the move courageous and a first step towards peace. TIM shareholders will presumably be happy that this period of corporate turmoil has been concluded, although shares were only up a few percent on Friday. Maybe this muted optimism was a consequence of the veiled threats contained within Vivendi’s climb-down. It may have exhausted this strategy but this is unlikely to be the last time Vivendi clashes with Elliot over TIM.

Vivendi denounces TIM board

The emotional level of the custody battle for TIM has reached a new pitch, with Vivendi starting to lose its composure.

“Vivendi denounces the behaviour of the Elliott-nominated Telecom Italia (TIM) Board members who yesterday rejected by a majority vote the report issued by the company’s Board of Statutory Auditors, a totally independent body, citing serious irregularities related to the company’s governance and its Board,” opened Vivendi’s latest salvo, which claimed to be seeking to re-establish the truth.

It was issued in quick response to the TIM board’s own response to Vivendi’s previous moan about a recent auditor’s report – you see how convoluted this is getting. It unsurprisingly thinks the perspective of the TIM board “…fails to mention several acts of serious misconducts by the Chairman and the lead independent director, who did not inform all independent directors in the same manner and were clearly selective in their interactions.”

Here are the questions Vivendi reckons remain unanswered:

  • Why did the Chairman organize the preparatory meeting concerning the dismissal of Amos Genish with the sole participation of the ten Board members designated by Elliott?
  • As widely reported by the Italian press, why did at least one preparatory meeting take place in the presence of only the ten Board members nominated by Elliott prior to the November 18, 2018 Board meeting?
  • Did the Chairman have any contact with any of Elliott’s representatives before or after the Board meetings of the 13th and 18th of November?
  • What was discussed at the meeting between the Chairman and the representatives of at least one minority shareholder that occurred on the 12th of November 2018?
  • What were the criteria used in the selection of the legal advisor for a decision as important as the dismissal of the CEO when it was well known that the same law firm has represented Elliott in the past and even sued TIM in recent months?
  • Does the Chairman believe he still has the confidence of the minority Board members, the Board of Statutory Auditors and the market?
  • Has the Chairman considered stepping down from the Board, in light of the findings of serious breaches in his duties that have emerged from the Report of the Board of Statutory Auditors?

In common with its opponents Vivendi also has a special website for its propaganda in this matter. It wants both the statutory auditors and CONSOB, the Italian securities regulator, to look into this further because it doesn’t think the Elliott-dominated board of TIM can be trusted to ‘self-police’. Ultimately, of course, Vivendi wants to restore its own dominance of the board, because it did such a great job of self-policing last time.

TIM board slaps down Vivendi moans

It took the TIM board a few days to respond to a bunch of accusations thrown at it by Vivendi, but the result was pretty comprehensive.

At the start of the week we reported that the battle between French conglomerate Vivendi and activist investor Elliott for control of Italian operator group TIM had degenerated to the point of resembling an acrimonious custody battle. The latest initiative from Vivendi was to accuse the TIM board of bad behaviour and state that this was the result of it being dominated by Elliott nominees.

That same board has now responded, laying out six Vivendi accusations and addressing each one at considerable length. We’re not going to lie to you, dear reader, the response is far from being a riveting read. But such is our devotion to duty here at Telecoms.com that we’ve digested the essence so you don’t have to. Italics denotes a direct copy from the document and regular font denotes our summaries of the TIM response.

Essentially, according to shareholder Vivendi and Mr de Puyfontaine, the Board is alleged to have:

(i) executed an unwarranted impairment test process which allegedly resulted in an equally unwarranted writedown of goodwill for a grand total of 2 billion euros in the interim report on operations at 30 September 2018;

  • The reasons for this have already been published and the process was signed off by loads of expert third parties. Furthermore the decision was overwhelmingly approved by the board, including Amos Genish.

(ii) utilised the circumstances that led to the impairment to revoke the powers assigned to Mr Amos Genish;

  • He was doing a rubbish job and there’s loads of evidence to prove it.

(iii) breached the rules of governance in the process that led to the aforementioned revocation;

  • He was doing such a rubbish job that we couldn’t waste any time in replacing him as CEO.

(iv) breached the rules of governance in the process whereby powers were attributed to Mr Luigi Gubitosi;

  • See previous answer.

(v) breached the current regulations on the occasion of Vivendi’s request for a TIM shareholders’ meeting to be called to:

(a) appoint the external auditors for the period 2019-2027;

(b) revoke the mandates of five directors, in the persons of Fulvio Conti, Alfredo Altavilla, Massimo Ferrari, Dante Roscini and Paola Giannotti de Ponti, and

(c) appoint five Directors, in the persons of Franco Bernabè, Rob van der Valk, Flavia Mazzarella, Gabriele Galateri di Genola and Francesco Vatalaro, to replace those whose mandates were revoked;

  • We already addressed this. Everything was done by the book and loads of experts will back us up on that.

(vi) breached current law on the occasion of the announcement to the market of preliminary 2018 results below the consensus and prudent estimates for the first half of 2019, allegedly thus causing a fall in the share price, as well as a loss of trust among investors.

  • On the contrary the law obliged us to make that announcement.

The response concludes by noting, as it was bound to, that Vivendi’s accusations are groundless and everything the board’s actions have been exemplary and beyond reproach. Vivendi can’t have expected anything else, but at least it forced the board to explain itself fully ahead of the shareholder meeting at the end of this month. It will presumably spend the intervening time picking holes in it.

The custody battle for TIM between Vivendi and Elliott gets personal

Vivendi says a recent TIM auditors report shows dodgy behaviour from Elliott, which in turn reckons Vivendi is a negative influence on the company.

Every new phase of the battle for control of Italian operator group TIM (the artist formerly known as Telecom Italia) is increasingly taking on the characteristics of an acrimonious custody fight. Each party takes turns in publishing claims of what a bad parent the other is, while at the same time insisting that it only wants what’s best for tiny TIM.

The latest salvo from Vivendi is a press release responding to a recently-published statutory auditors report (only in Italian, as far as we can tell)The release is headlined: ‘The irregularities in governance at Telecom Italia revealed by the Statutory Auditors report reinforce Vivendi’s position to request a return to a more balanced Board of Directors,’ which is consistent with pretty much all of Vivendi’s public statements on the matter since it lost control of the TIM board to Elliott last year.

“Vivendi is extremely concerned by the outcome of the Telecom Italia Statutory Auditors report released today confirming the existence of serious irregularities related to the governance of the company and its Board of Directors of which a majority of members are from the Elliott list,” opens the body copy. “This report reveals that the Chairman of the TIM Board violated corporate laws as well as the most basic, fundamental governance rules.”

It goes on to note the apparent existence of a ‘shadow board of directors’ consisting of just the Elliott-nominated ones, and says the auditor’s report reveals evidence that privileged information had been leaked to third parties prior to a previous board meeting. It doesn’t say who may have leaked that information but obviously Vivendi thinks it was someone affiliated to Elliott. All this goes to show how important it is that the shareholders get rid of some Elliott-nominated board members at a meeting on 29 March, according to Vivendi.

Elliott doesn’t seem to have directly addressed the Vivendi press release, but did publish one of its own this morning, merely entitled ‘Elliott statement on Telecom Italia’. Aside from dead-naming the company, the point of the release is to address the shareholder meeting and implore them not to replace any Elliott-nominated board members with fresh Vivendi ones.

Elliott believes Vivendi’s nominees are unsupportable, lack true independence, and would simply return control to a group with demonstrable conflicts of interest, related party transactions and a history of undermining TIM shareholders,” said the Elliott release.

“Elliott believes it is time to give TIM and its independent Board stability and space to implement its strategy, to achieve much-needed reform and to deliver sustainable shareholder value. It is time for TIM to shake off the damaging management of the past and reaffirm its decision to move confidently into the future. It is time for TIM, in the words of its new CEO, to become a “normal company.”

To support its position Elliott has published a presentation that can be accessed through a special website called time-for-tim.com (do you see what they did there?). The 40-page (yes, 40) presentation provides an exhaustive list of reasons why Elliott is great and Vivendi is rubbish, a lot of which amounts to an attack on French conglomerate Bolloré Group, which is the dominant shareholder at Vivendi, and which Elliott apparently suspects of nefarious motives.

We have seen nothing to make us pick one side over the other in this dispute. They both seem to want control of TIM to further their own ambitions, whether it’s short-term profit-taking or as a small part of a broader long-term strategy. Both are someone disingenuously claiming to only have the best interests of TIM at heart, but if we had a vote at the shareholder meeting we’d be tempted to get rid of both of them, if that were an option. TIM declined to comment when we contacted it.

Elliott strengthens its position at TIM

Vivendi wants Italian operator TIM to have a special meeting to choose new board members, but its auditors don’t agree.

The request was originally made by Vivendi at the end of last year, in apparent response to Amos Genish but essentially a delayed reaction to it losing control of the TIM board to activist investor group Elliott earlier in the year. Elliott is understandably less keen on having such a meeting and Vivendi isn’t happy at what it perceives as breaches of corporate due process.

In a somewhat convoluted and legalese press release TIM’s board of statutory auditors said it has been thinking about Vivendi’s request but it’s not convinced a special meeting before the scheduled AGM at the end of March is required.

“This Board has evaluated the procedure that led the Company’s Board of Directors to call a Meeting of Shareholders for the coming 29 March, the agenda for which includes the same matters that Vivendi had asked be discussed separately,” said the PR.

“Following that evaluation, and on the basis of the information available, in relation to the Board’s decision we consider that the conditions for the exercise of the powers to convene a specific meeting pursuant to Art. 2367 have not been met;

“This Board reserves the right to review its opinion about the calling of a Meeting of Shareholders, should the results of the investigation into the events reported by Vivendi reveal any new information or situations that were previously not considered.”

As indicated by the last paragraph, the auditors are still looking into Vivendi’s request, but it seems to have made up its mind. Vivendi hasn’t published a response to this decision yet, but it’s hard to see what else it can do to impose its will on the company it once seemed to completely control.

In related news last week Elliott dropped some more cash to increase its stake in TIM. “The Reporting Persons believe the securities of the Issuer are undervalued and represent an attractive investment opportunity,” said the filing. “Accordingly, the Reporting Persons have increased their beneficial ownership of the Issuer from their last reported 13D filing on April 9, 2018 from 8.8% to 9.4%.

“The Reporting Persons believe that there are several pathways for the Issuer to enhance shareholder value, including but not limited to, the separation of its fixed line access network (NetCo) and the evaluation of market consolidation options, as well as the conversion of the saving shares. The Reporting Persons believe any change in composition of the Board at this juncture would be detrimental to the execution and delivery of the Issuer’s anticipated value creation plans.”

In response to this move a Vivendi spokesperson said: “Elliott is acting as a pure financial investor, that is to say, using an opportunistic approach to take advantage of the 45% drop in the share price. The share price is currently so low because of Elliott’s own terrible governance since May 4. There is currently no industrial plan.”

As expected TIM delays shareholder meeting and Vivendi moans

The TIM board met today to discuss Vivendi’s request for a shareholder meeting and decided it can wait until the end of March.

This outcome had been widely expected and Vivendi already had its public moan written in advance. “Vivendi deplores the time-wasting tactics used by the Elliott Board members of Telecom Italia (TIM) who have decided to delay until March 29 the holding of a Shareholders’ Meeting, contrary to the company’s by-laws and the Italian Civil Code,” thundered the Vivendi release.

Just to remind you, ten out of the 15 TIM board members were proposed by Elliott and five by Vivendi. There was a time when the opposite was true and Vivendi regards that time with deep longing. That’s why it wants another vote in which it hopes to regain control of the board. If it ever is successful in that respect it will, of course, be guilty of none of the self-interested behaviour it accuses Elliot of.

“These time-wasting tactics are negatively impacting TIM’s financial results every day, as is sadly reflected by the more than 40% drop in the share price since May 4, 2018,” persisted Vivendi. “These tactics constitute a genuine denial of shareholder democracy and run counter to the most basic and fundamental principles of good corporate governance.”

Here’s what TIM announced following the meeting:

In taking this decision by a majority vote, the Board of Directors considered the motivations the shareholder has given for making this request, and the company’s interest in a (single) meeting to discuss the various issues the shareholders are called to resolve on, so as to:

- facilitate the completion of the processes to approve and disclose the strategic plan, the related impairment test on goodwill and hence the financial statements, and thus

- ensure that the shareholders have a proper and adequate information set,

while also promoting the greatest possible participation in a shareholders’ meeting, in which there is likely to be a substantial confrontation on what the industrial future of the Company is to be and on the people its management should be entrusted to.

There was plenty more but you get the gist. The Elliott-dominated TIM board has to grant Vivendi’s request eventually but it doesn’t see any reason why it should be in any hurry about it. The nature of corporate shenanigans means it can’t just say “we can’t be bothered for now” so it needs to give the decision a veneer of due process. There doesn’t seem to be much Vivendi can do about it, however, so things may go quiet on this story for another couple of months.

Vivendi war with Elliott over TIM set to escalate

Ahead of a TIM board meeting today Vivendi and TIM Chairman Fulvio Conti have been publicly bitching at each other.

An unnamed Vivendi spokesperson got in touch with the Sunday Times to brief against Conti yesterday, accusing him of failing to represent all shareholders. Vivendi is a 24% shareholder in TIM and has been upset ever since it lost control of the board to activist investor Elliott last year and has consistently questioned Conti’s impartiality.

Vivendi wants another vote on the composition of the TIM board, with the apparent aim of restoring its control. TIM has been slow to grant this request, prompting Vivendi to accuse Conti of carry out ‘absurd time-wasting tactics’. “The Chairman [of Vivendi, presumably] feels he [Conti, presumably] no longer represents Telecom’s shareholders as a whole and is therefore trying to avoid a democratic vote,” the mystery Vivendi spokesperson is quoted as saying in the ST piece.

In possible anticipation of the ST piece TIM issued a rambling statement from Conti on late on Friday that he may have dictated after his first grappa of the evening. Here it is in full.

Vivendi is always able to surprise me, ascribing me powers I do not have. Truth is, I am Chairman of a Board of Directors that has a significant presence of Vivendi-appointed members (including the Vivendi CEO), along with nine members – including me – with renowned standing that have complete autonomy of judgement.  I also remind that the Vivendi-appointed Directors have, in the past, had the opportunity to hear me during Board meetings asking them not to discuss TIM matters when markets are open. Evidently, I was not clear enough.

On the specific topic, I work in the interest of all shareholders, and by respecting the shareholder with 24% I cannot neglect to take into account the remaining 76%. If Vivendi has at heart the rules of a democratic vote, it will have to await the convening of the shareholders meeting which will be deliberated by the next Board of Directors on January 14, and this shall happen in complete autonomy, respecting the Civil Code which provides for the convening of an Assembly within 30 days of the request. This call date must take into account the interests of shareholders and the interests of the company. I inform the gentlemen at Vivendi that the civil code, in contrast to what the Vivendi spokesperson said, does not provide for a specific time limit to convene the shareholders meeting, but entrusts the Board of Directors to determine a correct date to hold it appropriate for all the interests at play.

With regard to the management issue, I have not personally orchestrated anything, but acknowledged the will of the majority of the Board of Directors whose vote expresses its loss of confidence in the former CEO Amos Genish. More than the management powers that Vivendi’s spokesman attributes me, I would like to draw attention to the years in which Vivendi has led TIM compared to my full 4 days.

While all this gives telecoms hacks something to write about on a Monday morning, these public statements are aimed squarely at TIM shareholders, who Vivendi wants to push for this new vote. An announcement is expected from TIM later today and Telecoms.com understands the Telecom Italia board will look to delay a vote around the election of new board members. This will lead to further public moaning from Vivendi, so watch this space.

Vivendi doesn’t think the TIM board is independent enough – hmm

As promised Vivendi has written to the board of Italian operator group TIM in a bid to replace Elliott-nominated members with its own proposed ones.

Here’s the entire text of the letter, dated 14 December 2018: ‘As announced on December 11, 2018, Vivendi wrote today to the Telecom Italia Board of Directors to urge it to convene a Shareholders’ Meeting as soon as possible to vote for the appointment of new financial Auditors.

‘Vivendi also asked that the agenda of the Shareholders’ Meeting includes a vote on the revocation of five Board members from the Elliott list who showed a substantial lack of independence and disrespect for the most basic and fundamental corporate governance rules, negatively affecting the organization and image of Telecom Italia. The Board members concerned by this revocation are: Fulvio Conti, Alfredo Altavilla, Massimo Ferrari, Dante Roscini and Paola Giannotti de Ponti.

‘To replace them, Vivendi asked that five new Board members be proposed to the Shareholders’ Meeting, all independent candidates with strong expertise and proven track records. The candidates proposed include four Italians and are: Flavia Mazzarella, Franco Bernabè, Gabriele Galateri di Genola, Rob van der Valk and Francesco Vatalaro.

‘Biographies of the candidates proposed as Board members are attached.’

The details of this disrespect for corporate governance rules are omitted from the letter as are the details of what these five board members did to show their lack of independence. There was an additional report attached to the letter, however, that does offer more.

Conti is accused of acting in bad faith during the process to turf out the previous Vivendi-supported CEO Amos Genish. Roscini is Lead Independent Director, but is accused of keeping stuff from the Vivendi-nominated ones. Ferrari is accused of speaking out of turn to the press, Altavilla of plotting Genish’s demise, and De Ponti of being complicit in that plot. Basically they’re all accused of acting in bad faith over the Genish sacking.

Cries of board bias are a bit rich coming from Vivendi which, until earlier this year, had the board stacked mainly with its own nominees. Most of them were nominally ‘independent’, but such was the influence Vivendi was apparently able to exert over the board that the Italian securities regulator was moved to proclaim it had de facto control of the company.

Now that Elliot is enjoying equivalent de facto control of the company Vivendi is crying ‘no fair’, but you can’t have it both ways guys. The Vivendi report stresses it doesn’t have any desire to take control of TIM but given its past form in that area, such claims are difficult to swallow. TIM has published a short announcement acknowledging receipt of the letter and noting that it has already said it will be looking into the auditor situation next month.

Vivendi inevitably tries to get rid of some Elliott directors

It was just a matter time before Vivendi reacted to its man being sacked as CEO of TIM and replaced by an Elliott ally.

A month ago the artist formerly known as Telecom Italia sacked its CEO, Amos Genish. The general assumption was that this was due to a disagreement between Genish and the board, which is dominated by activist investor Elliott. But since Genish was appointed back when Vivendi dominated the board, it was assumed to be just a matter of time before Elliott got rid of him.

Within a week TIM had a new CEO, Luigi Gubitosi, who just happened to be one of the people on the board nominated by Elliott. There was a bit of subsequent moaning, but the real action was always expected to be a renewed attempt by Vivendi to regain control of the board and, presumably, replace the CEO once more.

The method of doing so had been strongly hinted at in Vivendi’s initial response to Genish’s sacking. On the same day TIM issued a statement in response to public comments from Vivendi, the key section of which was went as follows.

‘As for Vivendi’s statement that it “deplores” the decision to not call a shareholders’ meeting to renew the external auditors, it should be noted that this statement is untruthful (since the BoD has not yet made any decision on this point) and misleading (given that no law requires the external auditors to be appointed before the shareholders’ meeting that will be called to approve the financial statements as at 31 December 2018).’

Last week TIM’s board convened, made one or two committee appointments and did a few other bits of corporate housekeeping, but didn’t address the external auditor thing. This was all the pretext Vivendi needed to make another move on the board and it made the following statement in a press release today.

‘In spite of the recent strong recommendation by the Collegio Sindacale (Statutory Auditors), the Telecom Italia Board, composed by a majority of Elliott backed Board members, decided on the 6th December not to convene an immediate Shareholders’ Meeting to vote for the appointment of new financial Auditors.

‘This decision, like many others before, goes against all the rules of proper corporate governance and is a source of disorganization.

‘For this reason, Vivendi has decided to write to the Board before the end of the week, to urge it to convene a Shareholders’ Meeting as soon as possible to appoint new financial auditors, revoke five current Board members from the Elliott list of ten, particularly those who were involved in these governance issues, and propose five new ones.’

There are 15 people on the TIM board. Currently ten of them were proposed by Elliott and five by Vivendi, so Vivendi needs a swing of at least three to regain control. We asked TIM for comment but they had nothing to add at this stage. It seems unlikely that TIM would be anything other than hostile to Vivendi’s demands, so we can expect another round of public lobbying of TIM shareholders by both parties as they continue to try to impose their will on the company.

Genish and Elliott embark on inevitable war of words

The only surprising thing about ousted TIM CEO Genish publicly attacking Elliott was that it took so long.

A week ago Amos Genish was removed as CEO of Italian telecoms group TIM by a board dominated by activist investors Elliott. They then replaced him sharpish with once of their own board nominees, Luigi Gubitosi, who will presumably enact those Elliott plans for the company that Vivendi-nominated board member Genish had resisted.

We get the impression that Genish has been mucked about a fair bit in this process, having apparently been reassured just a couple of days before he was sacked that he wouldn’t be. But his biggest issue seems to be with the overall boss of Elliott, Paul Singer, who he claims personally convinced him to hang around after Elliott had grabbed control of the TIM board.

In an interview with the Telegraph Genish said “Immediately after the AGM, Paul Singer called me and over a long call convinced me we have shared values, shared history and a common vision. He said that he fully supported me and the plan, and asked me to stay.

“I was naïve to believe him. I forgot that I was dealing with a raider and not with what you would call an activist. That’s too positive a name to give to this hedge fund. Clearly they switched their position very quickly and that’s where we are.”

It’s telling that he concedes his naivety. Elliott clearly had a massive interest in Genish hanging around in the short term, to avoid an investor panic if he had left immediately after the AGM. On that basis Singer was bound to tell him what he wanted to hear. We trust Genish wasn’t so naïve as to fail to negotiate a nice, fat payoff in the event of him getting turfed our prematurely.

Anyway, Elliott wasn’t about to take this level of moaning without a response and here’s what we got from one of its spokespeople. “Mr Genish had the opportunity to create value; we supported him. In actuality, he proved to be an impediment to value creation and the uncertainty as to his allegiances created disharmony with the Board.

“Total shareholder returns during Mr Genish’s tenure were -33.5%. For this reason, the Board had to let him go. Although Elliott had no foreknowledge of Mr Genish’s removal, we support the Board’s decision to remove him. The Board now has the opportunity to do the right thing and to act in the best interests of all stakeholders, by adopting Elliott’s value creation plan. We are confident that Mr Gubitosi can and will do better than Mr Genish did.”

If Elliott insists it had no part to play in Genish’s removal then we have to believe them in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, but that’s clearly not how Genish sees things. Vivendi has stayed pretty quiet throughout all this drama but it must surely be a matter of time before it gets its big guns out. Keep it up please, it makes for great copy.