REFILE-Heat is on Telecom Italia's CEO as Vivendi pushes on strategy
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By Agnieszka Flak and Danilo Masoni
MILAN, March 4 (Reuters) - A jump in the company's share price should brighten the mood of any chief executive but that is unlikely to have been the effect this week on Marco Patuano, the head of Telecom Italia.
After Patuano held a strategy meeting in Paris with executives from his new top shareholder Vivendi on Wednesday, market speculation mounted that the French group led by business tycoon Vincent Bollore might force change with or without Patuano. That sent Telecom Italia's shares up by over 6 percent.
Investors bet the evidence of increased pressure from Vivendi could open the way to a radical overhaul of the heavily-indebted group.
"Patuano is a bit of a man of the past and I'm not sure how long he can stay in the saddle, unless he aligns himself with Vivendi," said Tommaso Iaquinta of boutique investment bank Livolsi-Iaquinta & Partners.
Since taking over as CEO in late 2013, Patuano has had to steer a course for one of Italy's most politically sensitive companies which will not upset the sometimes conflicting interests of the state, employees and shareholders.
Patuano, who started his career in Telecom Italia in 1990 straight after university and worked his way up through the ranks to become chief operating officer before taking over as CEO, has stepped up spending on faster fixed and mobile networks as the government seeks to get internet connections across the nation up to speed with the rest of Europe.
He has also struck deals with content providers such as Sky Italia, Netflix and Mediaset in a search for new sources of income and to better compete with rivals. Continuación...