Board overhaul lets Telecom Italia CEO focus on strategy
By Danilo Masoni and Stefano Rebaudo
MILAN, April 10 (Reuters) - A board overhaul at Telecom Italia is set to placate belligerent minority investors, allowing Chief Executive Marco Patuano to focus on revamping the company's domestic business as the Italian economy begins to revive.
Yet questions remain over how he will handle a prospective sale of Telecom Italia's Brazilian assets.
Since his appointment in October, Patuano, who enjoys the backing of Spain's Telefonica and three other core investors, has faced a revolt by investors led by dissident shareholder Marco Fossati who are unhappy about the Spanish company's influence over Telecom Italia.
Reacting to the challenge, Telecom Italia's main investors agreed in March to put forward a majority of independent directors in a board renewal that is due on April 16.
Fossati has welcomed the change, while saying that minority shareholders still needed more representation.
Telefonica and the other core investors control Italy's biggest phone company via an investment vehicle called Telco.
Giuseppe Recchi, prospective chairman of the more independent board, told Reuters at the end of March he would not interfere with Patuano's strategy of selling assets to fund much-needed network upgrades and cut a heavy debt pile.
The improving Italian economy and speculation that Patuano will sell Telecom Italia's Brazilian assets have sent the company's shares soaring 50 percent in the last year, outperforming a broader rally by Italian stocks. Continuación...