Marco Patuano to head Telecom Italia as CEO

Telecom Italia Chief Operating Officer Marco Patuano will be the new managing director and chief executive officer.

Patuano replaces Telecom Italia CEO Franco Bernabe, who stepped down after clashing with shareholders over strategic directions at Italy’s biggest phone company, Bloomberg reported.

Bernabe, who resigned yesterday at a directors meeting in Milan, will receive 3.7 million euros in severance pay and an additional 2.9 million euros as part of a 12-month non-competition agreement, said Telecom Italia in a statement.

Patuano, 49, was given executive powers temporarily, while deputy chairman Aldo Minucci will run the board until a chairman is identified.

Marco  Patuano

Patuano’s priorities will include agreeing with biggest shareholder Telefonica — which with its partners owns a 22.4 percent stake in the Milan-based carrier — over strategy in Brazil and how to cut debt to avert a downgrade by rating companies to junk status.

Patuano joined Telecom Italia in 1990. When the carrier started its mobile-phone unit, TIM, and spun it off, he served as its chief financial officer. He was named CFO of units TIM Brasil and Telecom Italia America Latina SA in 2003. In 2006 he joined Telecom Argentina SA, where he became director of the fixed-line business, then as chief operating officer.

Patuano will raise cash and increase efficiency include a sale Telecom Italia’s wireless towers, creating separate companies for its domestic consumer and business services, and a spinoff of the carrier’s fixed-line grid.

[email protected]