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Vivendi to fight Telecom Italia’s plan to sell landline network to KKR

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Vivendi, the French media group backed by billionaire Vincent Bolloré, plans to battle a proposal by Telecom Italia to promote its prized landline community to KKR, in keeping with individuals with data of the scenario.

The Telecom Italia (TIM) board backed the opening of unique negotiations with KKR on Thursday, opening a brand new chapter in a long-running battle over the closely indebted cell and broadband group’s future.

Vivendi, which holds a 23.75 per cent stake in TIM and greater than 17 per cent of its voting rights, believes that the personal fairness agency’s supply undervalues the community and that any sale can be a strategic mistake. “Separating the community with out fixing the issue of what’s subsequent for Telecom Italia is simply procrastination . . . and poor governance and administration,” stated one of many individuals.

Vivendi, which is managed by Bolloré, has “been combating this battle as a result of the asset that’s the jewel of the corporate is the community. So if you happen to separate the community from the remainder of the corporate it’s a useless man strolling,” the individual added. 

KKR’s supply values the community at about €22.5bn, however Vivendi argues it’s price greater than €30bn.

“As any shareholder, we are saying that we need to guarantee that the board takes into consideration the right way to maximise the worth for all of the stakeholders, together with the shareholders,” Yannick Bolloré, chair of Vivendi’s supervisory board, stated in an interview with the Monetary Instances on Tuesday. He declined to remark additional on any asset gross sales.

TIM declined to remark, however stated in an announcement it aimed to have negotiated a binding supply with KKR by the tip of September.

The fixed-line community’s valuation has lengthy been a sticking level between the events, together with Italian state investor Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), which is already an investor in TIM. It has additionally submitted a competing joint bid with Australian fund Macquarie that values the community at beneath €20bn. 

Vivendi has invested greater than €4bn in constructing its stake in TIM since 2015, billing it initially as a technique to create a media champion in southern Europe. Nonetheless, it has needed to write down its funding twice because the Italian firm’s valuation plunged amid excessive debt, elevated home competitors, decrease margins and a number of administration overhauls. 

TIM’s inventory now trades at €0.20, however when Vivendi first invested within the group eight years in the past the shares have been price greater than €1 every. They have been down 4 per cent in lunchtime buying and selling in Milan on Thursday.

Vivendi at current has no board illustration after its chief government Arnaud de Puyfontaine introduced his resignation from TIM’s board in January. 

KKR’s supply received out over the competing one by CDP and Macquarie, who’re additionally buyers in Open Fiber, a home competitor, which poses antitrust issues.

The mooted sale is a part of chief government Pietro Labriola’s try and relaunch the debt-laden group, however his plan has run into opposition from Vivendi, which appointed him in late 2021.

The present disagreement is the most recent in a string of clashes between TIM and its predominant shareholder. Former chief government Luigi Gubitosi left the corporate after grappling with Vivendi over KKR’s first €33bn bid, which he supported and which envisaged taking the corporate personal.

Individuals near the talks in Rome stated the US group is nicely positioned to show the corporate round. It will additionally enable the corporate to slash its €25bn pile of debt and enhance its valuation. Italian infrastructure fund F2i can be more likely to take a minority stake if talks with KKR transfer ahead, in keeping with individuals near TIM and the Italian authorities.

Italian officers stated Vivendi’s “tacitly obstructive opposition” to the deal had “profoundly” irritated Rome, which didn’t consider the French group had a viable various answer. “It’s both this or a capital improve. It’s comprehensible they don’t need to lose cash on their funding, however this behaviour is quite infantile as a result of the options to KKR — CDP and Macquarie — don’t look excellent in any respect,” stated a senior Italian official. 

Below Italy’s so-called “golden energy” guidelines, the federal government can intervene to dam or facilitate investments by foreigners in belongings deemed strategic for the nation. Telecommunications networks are one of many sectors over which Rome has the broadest oversight. 

Final week, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s cupboard authorised measures to curb Chinese language group Sinochem’s affect over tyremaker Pirelli, whose expertise was deemed strategically related for nationwide safety.