Independents set to dominate at Telecom Italia after board reshuffle

miércoles 16 de abril de 2014 06:21 GYT

MILAN, April 16 (Reuters) - Telecom Italia investors gathered on Wednesday to vote on a board restructuring that will for the first time put a majority of independent directors in charge of overseeing Italy's largest phone group.

In the reshuffle, executives from top shareholder Telefonica will no longer sit on the board.

That move is aimed at placating minority investors concerned about a possible conflict of interest, given that the Spanish and Italian firms operate as competitors in Brazil. It is also designed to help chief executive Marco Patuano focus on turning around the heavily indebted Italian group.

Shareholders will vote on three distinct lists of candidates, all of which would give independent directors a majority on the board.

Investors with a combined 51 percent were present as the meeting started, outgoing Chairman Aldo Minucci said, adding that Telco was present with its 22.4 percent stake, dissident investor Marco Fossati with 5 percent and U.S. fund Blackrock with 4.8 percent.

Telecom Italia's board has been dominated for years by holding company Telco, a Telefonica-led group that owns 22.4 percent of the Italian firm. The lack of adequate representation for minority investors sparked a shareholder revolt led by Fossati last year.

Telefonica's head Cesar Alierta and Julio Linares, a former chief operating officer at the Spanish company, resigned from the Telecom Italia board in December.

Concerned that dissatisfaction could mount, Telco proposed in March a new board of independent figures led by chairman candidate Giuseppe Recchi, a former General Electric executive and outgoing chairman of oil group Eni.

The new board will hope to tap into the recovering Italian economy, which is starting to pull clear of its worst recession in 70 years.   Continuación...