MILAN, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Italy's government is following closely events at Telecom Italia, a company deemed strategic for the country, a top government official said in response to a move by French tycoon Xavier Niel who built a 15 percent stake in the group.
"The country's best interest is that any changes among shareholders ... meet the goal of strengthening industrially a company, such as Telecom Italia, which is strategic for the development of Italy's telecommunications system," said Claudio De Vincenti, chief of staff of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
Niel, founder of French mobile operator Iliad, has emerged in the past two days as the second-largest investor in Telecom Italia thanks to call options contracts and other positions which grant him the equivalent of a 15.1 percent voting stake.
De Vincenti also said any changes among shareholders had to comply with market rules.
Although not a direct shareholder in Telecom Italia, the Italian government could intervene if it sees developments at the company as threats to national interests.
Reporting by Valentina Za and Francesca Landini