Telecom Italia kicks out CEO Amos Genish

In one of the least surprising board room purges ever, Telecom Italia (or TIM for short) has got rid of its CEO Amos Genish.

“TIM’s Board of Directors met today and deliberated by a majority vote to revoke with immediate effect all powers conferred to Director Amos Genish, giving mandate to the Chairman to resolve further obligations in relation to the existing working relationship with Genish,” said a TIM announcement today.

“In accordance with the succession plan for Executive Directors adopted by TIM, the proxies revoked to Director Amos Genish were provisionally assigned to the Chairman of the Board. The Chairman of the Nomination and Remuneration Committee has called for a meeting of the latter, in compliance with its responsibility in identifying the new CEO.

“A new meeting of the Board of Directors to appoint a new CEO was convened for November 18. The Board of Directors thanks Amos Genish for the work done in the interest of the Company and all its stakeholders in these fourteen months of intense activity.”

The removal of Genish had seemed inevitable since investor group Elliott won a battle with French conglomerate Vivendi, for control of the TIM board room, back in May of this year. Genish had previously been installed as CEO while Vivendi was still calling the shots, but after winning control Elliott made all the right noises about Genish having their full confidence.

This always seemed somewhat tenuous, with Genish’s loyalties presumably under suspicion and him providing at the very least a convenient scapegoat as and when things took a bad turn at the company. That came to pass last week when TIM said it was writing down the value of its assets by €2 billion and exacerbated by a disagreement between Genish and the board over what to do about TIM’s fixed line network.

Rumours emerged early this week that Genish’s days were numbered and that the board was about to convene a special meeting to agree on his demise. Hilariously TIM issued statements to the press denying such a thing was going to happen just a day or two before it did. TIM has a rich history of deceptive press communications but this outright lie was shameless even by its standards.

“This is a shock,” Analyst Paolo Pescatore of Midia Research told “However, ongoing turmoil at the company continues to drag it down. The company is very well placed given its assets and early move to secure a leadership position in 5G. Further tussles will hand its fierce rivals a competitive edge.”

So what next? Elliott apparently has less than a week to come up with an alternative CEO that will do its bidding and the remaining Vivendi board members will presumably oppose whoever they put forward. Above everything else, however, this is another opportunity to finally appoint a CEO whose first name is Tim. Surely everyone can agree on the importance of that.

Elliott slaps Vivendi down over TIM rant

Activist investor Elliott Advisors has hit back following criticism of TIM by French conglomerate Vivendi.

Last week Vivendi, which lost control of the TIM board to Elliott earlier this year, decided to issue a public diss of TIM, with the apparent aim of showing what a rubbish job Elliott is doing. The core of the argument was that the share price is down since it lost and furthermore there has been some gossip in the press.

For such a massive and well-resourced company that was a pretty weak effort and Elliott seems to have had little trouble drafting a dismissive rebuttal. You can see the full statement below, but it essentially comes down to: the share price has always sucked, Vivendi is largely responsible for any of TIM’s flaws and Elliott doesn’t even control the TIM board anyway.

Elliott notes Vivendi’s statement of September 5th. Elliott shares Vivendi’s concern about the share-price performance of Telecom Italia (“TIM”), a problem that has persisted for years. Yet Elliott is disappointed that Vivendi has chosen to attack TIM’s management, its Board and one of its fellow shareholders rather than work toward constructive solutions.

Vivendi seems to have fallen prey to the “short-termism” it has previously decried. After its own multi-year tenure as acknowledged controlling shareholder, Vivendi appears ready to cast final judgement on TIM’s new Board just four months after it was appointed. How can Vivendi avoid responsibility for the state of affairs at TIM when it was in charge for so long and the new Board has been seated for so little time?

Vivendi also criticizes the “disastrous” management of TIM. While we disagree that management of TIM has been “disastrous,” it is worth noting that TIM’s independent Board has not made any significant management changes at TIM: Vivendi’s Board appointed the current CEO, and both the CEO and CFO remain in their positions.

Among a number of misleading comments in its September 5th statement, Vivendi falsely asserts that Elliott “promised” a doubling of TIM’s share price. Elliott did not and does not make “promises” to the market. It is true that Elliott offered an assessment of the upside potential to the TIM share price over the medium term if a revised, independent board adopted Elliott’s value-creation recommendations. To date, the Board has not adopted any of those recommendations. Instead, the Board has thus far adhered to Vivendi’s own approach. As TIM’s Chairman Fulvio Conti noted on Friday, “We are executing a plan that has been devised and approved by [Vivendi] and actually promoted by [Vivendi].”

In its September 5th statement, Vivendi again confuses the proper role of a shareholder, asserting that Elliott has taken “control” of the board. Elliott does not control TIM’s board. Vivendi’s approach to corporate governance — one of apparent complete disregard for board independence — is among the many reasons TIM’s shareholders overwhelmingly voted for change earlier this year.

Elliott encourages TIM shareholders to give the new Board time to show that they can create value for TIM shareholders in what is obviously a difficult environment for Italian stocks and Telcos in general. Vivendi still has significant representation on TIM’s Board. If Vivendi now takes the view that fresh ideas are needed, Elliott would welcome its help in promoting value-creative solutions at the Board level.

It’s hard to imagine what Vivendi thought its half-arsed attempt at propaganda might achieve. Elliott has quite rightly swatted it aside and the lingering impression is of a spoilt child having a tantrum because it didn’t get its own way. It’s possible this was the first salvo in a propaganda campaign designed to culminate in another boardroom battle at the next AGM, but Vivendi will need to significantly raise its game if wants a different outcome.

Vivendi inevitably moans about TIM now that it’s not running it

French telecoms and media conglomerate Vivendi has issued a statement saying how rubbish Italian operator group TIM has been since Vivendi lost control of the boardroom.

Back in May Vivendi lost out to activist investor firm Elliott in a battle to install their respective proxies on the TIM board of directors. Despite the fact that Vivendi’s chosen CEO, Amos Genish, remains at the helm, TIM’s share price has gone down the toilet since then. As Vivendi still owns nearly a quarter of those shares, this decline adds insult to injury.

Here’s the Vivendi statement in full.

Vivendi is deeply concerned by the disastrous management of Telecom Italia (TIM) since Elliott took control of its Board of Directors following the May 4, 2018 Shareholders Meeting:

  • The stock market performance is dramatic: TIM’s share price dropped about 35% since May 4, 2018, and is at its lowest level in five years while in its April 9, 2018 position paper, Elliott promised a doubling of the share price over the next two years.
  • The new governance team is failing: the spreading of rumors (including the departure of the CEO) is causing dysfunction that is harmful to the smooth operation and results of TIM.

Vivendi, its largest shareholder with 24% of the shares, remains convinced of TIM’s significant development potential.

The second bullet point seems pretty thin. Companies like Vivendi routinely insist they don’t comment on rumours and speculation and yet, when it suits them, the existence of rumours that, for all we know, could have originated from sources sympathetic to Vivendi itself, are used as primary evidence of corporate disfunction. Where, for example, might rumours about the CEO leaving have come from?

TIM, of course, is having none of it. Here’s Tim’s counter-statement in full.

TIM’s Chairman, Fulvio Conti, is deeply disappointed by the groundless and absurd accusations – which he rejects – made by Vivendi about the company’s operations.

Since its appointment the Board has been and still is focused on the execution of the Strategic Plan, outlined by Vivendi itself during its management.

TIM is a relevant player in Italy’s economy, with over 50k employees, more than 40 million lines between mobile and landline, able to confront the evolution of the market and competition, as shown by the H1 2018 results.

Finally, the concentration of negative elements coming from the other side of the Alps and influencing the share price is paradoxical for Vivendi.

TIM’s role in Italy’s economy seems entirely irrelevant to this spat and its invocation just serves to illustrate how petty and superficial this tug of love between Elliott and Vivendi has always been. The reference to the Alps was fun, though, and it would appear to be highly symbolic that Conti rather than Genish issed the counter-statement.

It’s not immediately obvious what Vivendi hopes to achieve from issuing such an announcement, apart maybe from some brief catharsis. In the longer term it probably has its eyes set on the next TIM AGM, at which it will presumably bid to reclaim control of the board room. And if TIM’s share price hasn’t recovered significantly by then it may well win too.

TIM moves to limit damage from inevitable clash between CEO and board

TIM CEO Amos Genish has been moaning about his executive board, which has prompted the inevitable damage limitation exercise.

In early May a battle to control the TIM boardroom between major shareholders Vivendi and Elliott resulted in victory for the latter. In spite of that Amos Genish, who seemed to be clearly favourable towards the Vivendi side, decided to hang around and was confirmed in the role immediately.

A brave face was put on things from all sides, but it was hard to imagine Genish was going to be totally happy with the new boardroom arrangements and it only took him a month or so to start moaning. The timing, ahead yesterday’s board meeting, was presumably not a coincidence.

Bloomberg reported him as saying the following to reporters: “Unfortunately there are some board members who are involved in feeding untrue and unreliable speculation, interfering with management’s day-by-day work. It’s just noise, not welcomed and not expected, but I won’t be intimidated from getting my job done.”

One of the things resulting from the board meeting was the following statement: “The Board of Directors discussed the comments openly made by the CEO about some Board members, acknowledging his clarifications on the matter and his regret for having made inappropriate comments, subsequently amplified by the media.  As a result of the discussion, the Board confirms that its members share a common vision and objectives for TIM, and continue to support the management team.”

Today we got another ‘clarification’ from TIM: With reference to the article published today in Il Messaggero “TIM, Genish: my comments about the BoD were inappropriate”, TIM hereby clarifies that any kind of speculation regarding the 5G auction reported in the article is groundless, and that any strategy of the Company to take part in it is absolutely premature.

And as for the supposed relationship between TIM and Bai &Company, TIM specifies it has no relations with the consultancy company on 5G and no knowledge of any Bain project on this topic.”

We’ve tried to find this article, even searching for ‘TIM, Genish dichiarazioni inappropriate le mie sul CdA’, but the only Il Messaggero piece published on the matter recently is some vanilla piece apparently parroting the official line from TIM. This implies TIM succeeded in getting Il Messagero to take the original piece down.

Genish, presumably, isn’t stupid and must have known what he was doing when he accused some of his board of briefing against him in the press. The subsequent climb-down was merely the inevitable choreographed set-piece required from such a statement, but Genish seems to be putting the Elliott dominated board on notice that he’s not going to stand for any funny business.

TIM CEO interview prompts clarification from Elliott too

Ahead of the TIM shareholders meeting on Friday, activist investor Elliott has felt the need to clarify its position once more.

The catalyst for this, presumably, last public statement before the big vote, seems to have been an interview conducted by TIM CEO (or whatever his job title is today) Amos Genish with the Sunday Telegraph, that prompted a formal response from TIM following the headline claim that he’s ready to quit if Elliott prevails.

While TIM said the headline was misleading, Elliott didn’t address the story directly, but seemed to be equally alarmed by all this talk of Genish flouncing off. Elliott started with its standard line that it thinks TIM is great, but would be a lot better if Vivendi had less influence on the board. It proposes instead an ‘independent’ set of candidates for the board, but still wants Genish at the helm.

“With respect to certain value realisation opportunities put forward by Elliott on April 9th, Elliott believes that the management team led by Mr. Genish, together with an independent Board should evaluate whether and when to carry out strategic initiatives, in the best interest of value creation for all shareholders,” said the statement published yesterday.

“Elliott seeks to ensure Mr. Genish and his entire management team are equipped to maximise the value creation attributable to TIM’s business plan by aligning TIM with international corporate governance best practices and equipping the company with a qualified independent board. To that end, Elliott has proposed a slate of ten independent, highly qualified, credible nominees that share Mr. Genish’s vision for TIM’s future and are fully supportive of TIM’s business plan.”

The statement concludes by stressing how incredibly independent this team of people Elliott has put forward are and what infinitesimally small influence Elliott will have over them. We have no evidence to contradict this claim but Elliott seems very worried that some will think the people it put forward might be especially sympathetic to its agenda, which leads us to wonder why.

TIM issues lame ‘clarifications’ of Sunday Telegraph story

Italian telco TIM is clearly unhappy with an interview done by its boss Amos Genish and has had a pretty feeble go at damage limitation.

The offending piece was published in the UK’s Sunday Telegraph, entitled Telecom Italia chief ready to quit if activist Elliott wins power struggle. It was based around an interview with Genish and quoted him as saying “If the Vivendi slate does not get the majority of votes, because this is clearly the only slate to support our long-term industrial plan, I firmly believe my position as CEO would be untenable.”

TIM followed up with a press release entitled ‘Clarifications regarding the Sunday Telegraph article’. “TIM would like to clarify that the headline is misleading and does not reflect the exchange between Amos Genish and the paper,” it opened, before pointing out Genish is not technically CEO at the moment.

Now, unless TIM is saying the Telegraph fabricated the above quote, the headline of the story would appear to be a laudably accurate condensation of what was said. Surely, if Genish considered his position to be untenable, he would indeed quit. Multiple online dictionaries define untenable as a position that’s indefensible; how could he do anything other than quit when in such a position?

The correction of his current job title seems an especially feeble attempt at misdirection. Genish was appointed as CEO last year and has remained in that position since. The recent spat between Vivendi and Elliot, on which the Telegraph story was about and in which Genish clearly favours Vivendi, has necessitated a re-election of the TIM board and thus the CEO position, so TIM tweaked Genish’s job title four days ago. Maybe TIM’s trying to make the technical point that he may not even be re-elected by a hostile board, but that still seems a trivial technicality. If Genish isn’t CEO then who is?

“The issues set out by Amos Genish in today’s article regarding the future make-up of the board and the need for the new board to express its position regarding the Business Plan had, in fact, already been dealt with and explained in another recent interview of Amos Genish published in Il Sole 24 Ore on 19 April,” concludes the TIM announcement. So what? That doesn’t make the article any less accurate.

It’s not uncommon for PRs to attempt this kind of damage limitation. When an exec says something regrettable in a media interview there are a range of techniques in the PR playbook including: the comments were off the record; they’ve been taken out of context; the quote is incomplete; and that’s not what they meant to say. But even that weak selection doesn’t seem to have been applicable in this case, so TIM’s flacks would’ve been better advised to suffer in silence.

The TIM, Elliott and Vivendi spat escalates to pugilistic levels

The fight for the soul of Italian telco TIM, between French conglomerate Vivendi and the UK arm of US activist investor Elliott, is getting tasty.

If you Google TIM and Elliot you the top listings all refer to a mixed martial arts fighter. This seems amusingly appropriate given the increasingly combative nature of their dispute ahead of the TIM AGM next week. Two days ago Vivendi published a defence of its influence over TIM, which was followed up by a TIM investor presentation effectively endorsing Vivendi’s approach and rejection Elliott’s.

Elliott wasn’t about to take this coordinated ground-and-pound lying down and today published a counter-punch of its own, in the form of a detailed dissection of Vivendi’s public statement. In total 17 Vivendi statements are critiqued, with the predictable aim of discrediting them. Here are some of the highlights.

Vivendi: “Telecom Italia had lost more than 70% of its market value in the previous ten years before Vivendi came on board.”

Elliott: The negative trend in TIM’s stock price performance has accelerated since Vivendi nominees joined the Board in December 2015. In a little over two years, TIM’s stock has fallen more than 35%.

“As the main shareholder in Telecom Italia, Vivendi can provide stability and expertise while enabling other shareholders to invest and participate in the future upside.”

It appears that Vivendi’s approach to telecom assets in the past (SFR, GVT, Maroc Telecom) has been to trade these businesses rather than to promote investment stability through long-term stewardship.

“We have proposed a slate of candidates for the Board who are fully supportive of the management team and their approach.”

Elliott, along with proxy advisors Glass Lewis, ISS and Frontis Governance, believes its slate to be a material improvement to that put forward by Vivendi, in terms of credibility, suitable experience and the support it can provide the management team.

“In drawing up that slate we have listened attentively to the views of others.”

Vivendi may have listened to the views of others but it has evidently ignored them: Vivendi has presented mostly the same directors who resigned in March 2018, including those whom they claim to be independent.

Of course writing a hit piece to pick apart your opponent’s argument is one thing, convincing shareholders is quite another. It has now come to the stage that it’s difficult to take anything any of the interested parties have to say at face value as everything published is entirely committed to the strategy of gaining control of the TIM board.

Vivendi wants the world to believe it is committed to the long term health and growth of TIM as part of its pan-European multiplay strategy, while Elliott seems to want to convince shareholders that Vivendi’s moves to control the company despite only being a minority shareholder itself run contrary to their interests. Everyone seems to have thrown their best shots now and it will all come down to the judges’ scorecards at the TIM AGM main event.

TIM’s future is balancing on a knife edge

With just a week a week left until the much anticipated showdown between vulture-fund Elliott and wannabee media-powerhouse Vivendi at the TIM Shareholders meeting, the latter has unleashed a plea to the media.

The note from Vivendi seems a little bit defensive, but points out all the positive steps forward TIM has taken since Vivendi assumed control in the boardroom. And to be fair, it has actually done a good job. Since June 2017, share price has outperformed peers, Q4 saw the team report record results and the new strategic plan does look promising. But of course Elliott is not happy, and TIM is caught in the middle of two investors scrapping for control.

The TIM/Vivendi strategy is one which has been in the works for some time. Control assets and look to build a convergence business model, readying the organization for the connected economy. It has faced hurdles with the Italian government, but separating the fixed business into a separate, but still wholly-owned, legal entity seemed to appease the government. And then came Elliott.

The activist investor has done what it does best very effectively. It has shouted, screamed and banged its drum so loud people are starting to listen. In a typical example of ‘pump and dump’ investor strategy, Elliott is looking for short-term gains. Reintroduce a healthy dividend, sell off smaller assets and spin-off NetCo, the newly formed fixed line business, to capture billions in capital. This would possibly raise the share price in the short-term, but it would not leave TIM in a healthy position.

The advantage of TIM right now is scale. It has healthy(ish) fixed and mobile businesses, with the ambitions of creating a content unit in the future. The Elliott strategy of stripping assets for cash would leave TIM as a hollow monster. It would not have the assets or scale to launch new products and services, or entice customers with attractive convergence offers. It would also leave the business in a precarious position when it comes to future funding and investment. Scale and assets are attractive when talking to banks, a streamlined business is not.

TIM has long been one of the poorest performing former-monopolies on the European continent, but the Digi-TIM strategy being led by CEO Amos Genish is one which show promise for the future. Economic indicators are all heading in the right direction, but these are reliant on a strategy which can support the business for the next 10-15 years. Elliott is looking short-term to fuel its own financial ambitions, which you cannot blame it for really, but it is not the best strategy for TIM.

Aside from the strategy, the battle for control of the Board Room is another area which should greatly concern investors.

“If Vivendi is ousted as the controlling shareholder, what could await is not a sunlit upland of good governance but an alternative group of less easily identifiable interest groups and the exit of the highly regarded CEO, Amos Genish,” said Nick Delfas, Partner at equities broker Redburn.

When it comes to Italian business and law, it helps to have a dominant voice in the board room. As it stands, there is an established board which supports the strategy. Elliott has proposed the removal of six board members, an idea which is starting to gain some support, replacing them with six of its own nominations. What this would create is a dysfunctional board, with egos aiming to shout louder than the one in the next seat.

Another genuine risk is the loss of CEO Amos Genish, who has developed somewhat of a fan following over the last six months. He is a Vivendi man, which makes the Elliott support for him a bit unusual, but ultimately he is the third CEO in a matter of 18 months for TIM. A dysfunction board room could lead to the loss of Genish, and the introduction of a fourth CEO. This would not create the image of stability and promise, potentially adding further worry to already nervous investors.

To replace the six Vivendi board members, Elliott has proposed its own slate, which once again poses problems. These are Elliott men and perfectly respectable businessmen, but they are from a previous generation. These are men who led businesses to success in the analogue age; are these the leaders who are going to take TIM to the promised land in the digital era? We seriously doubt it.

This drama is all about power and control. Both Vivendi and Elliott want it for different reasons. Vivendi wants to create a pan-European media business, which can dominate the continent for decades. Elliott wants to cash in on the dividend and increase share price, before offloading and profiting. The next couple of weeks could be incredibly defining for the TIM business and whether it is a major player in a decades time or if becomes a footnote underneath a dominant international player.

Elliott takes aim at TIM board in chaos mission

Activist investor Elliott has taken a swipe at the TIM Board of Directors, claiming the business could use with a ‘truly independent’ board.

In years gone by scraps between investors might have taken place behind closed doors or in a passive-aggressive manner on the golf course, but that is not the Elliott way. The strategy here seems to cause as much chaos as possible in the public eye while sneakily increasing its stake in the company. Perhaps it is part of the greater plan; cause as much friction as possible, acquire shares at a lower price before shutting up, allowing the share price to recover and then selling up for a profit.

We’ve said it before, but Telecom Italia is proving to be one of the most interesting companies in the telco space at the moment. Over the last decade it was probably viewed as an inefficient, inoffensive, underperforming former monopoly, but with Vivendi’s stake, the government prying and Elliott shaking, who knows what is going to happen next.

“Elliott believes a board composed of truly independent directors is the most efficient and effective way to improve governance and performance at TIM,” Elliott has said in a statement, while also nominating what it describes as ‘independent’ candidates.

“Elliott believes that these six candidates can empower the Board to correct the persistent undervaluation that is undeniably present at TIM. As a shareholder, Elliott is excited that individuals of this calibre have stepped forward and believes they bring fresh perspectives and accountability to the TIM Board. Elliott seeks to play a positive constructive role in this process and to act as a catalyst in TIM’s return to value creation.”

The objective here looks to be relatively plain. Elliott has invested in a company which is not performing as it should with the interest in creating a new business model before flogging its stake. It is a short-term investment strategy which the firm is famous for. There is a very good reason the firm is known unflatteringly as a ‘vulture fund’.

With the current board appointments, Elliott believes the business is suffering. According to the firm, share price is not where it should be, the strategy is not what is should be and there are conflicts when it comes to corporate governance. Elliott has found problems which it has with the business, but it doesn’t seem to want to suggest an alternative. What the reaction of the letter will be remains to be seen, but the purpose is very clear; undermine the Vivendi influence as much as possible.

Some of the suggestions from Elliott are as follows:

  • Replacing Vivendi friendlies on the board of directors
  • Put more Elliott friendlies on the board of directors
  • Change the voting structure
  • Separate listing or partial sale of NetCo as opposed to separation but maintaining ownership
  • Disposing or selling part of Sparkle
  • Reintroducing dividend

On the other hand, you have Vivendi’s CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine who’s interest in the firm is to expand his own media empire. It’s a long-term strategy which could do with some calmer waters. After appeasing the Italian government by separating the fixed business in an Openreach-style move, the appearance and attention of Elliott will not be welcomed.

Working at TIM right now must be a nightmare; who knows what is going to happen next month.

Vivendi and Elliott have a domestic over the custody of TIM

French conglomerate Vivendi has pulled its three proxies on the board of Italian operator group TIM, claiming Elliott Management is trying to dismantle it.

By amazing coincidence five other TIM board members have also resigned, which apparently means every board position needs to be reallocated at the next shareholder’s meeting, which has been called for 24 April, although Vivendi seems to think it’s in May. All very confusing, but then this kind of corporate dicking about usually is.

“In light of the attempt led by hedge-fund activist Elliott Management, well-known for its track record of short-termist initiatives, to dismantle Telecom Italia (TIM), the three members of the TIM Board of Directors representing Vivendi, which supports the unanimously approved industrial plan led by Amos Genish and his team, have decided to resign from the Board,” said the Vivendi announcement.

Elliott wasn’t about to let that kind of slur go unchallenged and issued the following riposte: “Given the momentum behind Elliott’s campaign at Telecom Italia to improve both performance and governance, Elliott was not surprised to see yesterday’s resignation of seven board members affiliated with Vivendi.” So they can neither agree on dates or numbers – nice.

“Unable to advance any meritorious arguments, the board has simply abandoned their posts to stall for time,” continued the Elliott statement. “Elliott regards this action as cynical and self-serving, in that it delays the ability of Telecom Italia shareholders to express their votes at the upcoming AGM.

“This is yet another example of minority shareholder rights at Telecom Italia being abrogated and the continued disregard of corporate governance best practice. Finally, Vivendi should note Elliott’s forty-year track record of consistent value creation, and sustained, long-term commitments to expose poor governance and catalyse positive change; Elliott’s investment history in Telecom Italia dates back to 1999, well before Vivendi became a shareholder in the company.”

TIM’s formal response addresses the numerical discrepancies in the two previous statements. Apparently Elliott wanted the meeting on 24 April, but all these resignations have forced the postponement to 4 May. Furthermore Executive Deputy Chairman Giuseppe Recchi had already bailed before the meeting at which the other seven handed in their notice.

All this apparently sets us up for a big proxy showdown on 4 May when Vivendi and Elliot will furiously lobby TIM shareholders (minimum 0.5% of voting capital) to appoint their representative to the board. How this tug of love over Italy’s biggest telco will play out after that is anyone’s guess.