TIM fails to fix network deal deadline as Vivendi stays away

Telecom Italia (TIM) did not take a decision on a key network deal on Friday as representatives of top investor Vivendi did not attend a special board meeting, Reuters news report said.
TIM digital storeItalian state-lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), infrastructure fund Macquarie and Open Fiber have asked for more time to negotiate a deal to buy TIM’s network assets, seeking to delay an initial deadline for a binding agreement by the end of this month.

TIM held a special board meeting on Friday to discuss the request but was not able to decide in the absence of Vivendi’s representatives.

Arnaud de Puyfontaine and Frank Cadoret, the French media company’s representatives on TIM’s board, had informed TIM Chairman Salvatore Rossi in advance of prior engagements that made it impossible for them to attend Friday’s meeting.

Vivendi was piling pressure on TIM to replace Salvatore Rossi, a former Bank of Italy top official, with veteran manager Massimo Sarmi, the head of Italy’s telecoms lobby group.

The grid sale is a key part of the strategy set by TIM Chief Executive Pietro Labriola to turn around the debt-laden group whose shares hit a record low on Thursday.

TIM is now expected to convene another board meeting to discuss the deal postponement.

The multi-billion euro bid is part of a plan to combine TIM’s fixed network assets with those of smaller rival Open Fiber to create a single national network operator under CDP’s control.

Treasury-owned CDP, which holds a 10 percent stake in TIM, controls Open Fiber.

Divergences on valuations have been a stumbling block, with Vivendi seeking 31 billion euros to back a deal, at least 10 billion above CDP’s valuation.

CDP’s plans to create a single broadband network champion will be reviewed by a new government which is due to be installed later this month. Giorgia Meloni in September claimed victory in Italy’s election, and is on course to become the country’s first female prime minister.