Telecom Italia backs guidelines for independent board

MILAN Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:59pm EST

MILAN Feb 27 (Reuters) - The board of Italy's biggest phone group Telecom Italia approved on Thursday a set of guidelines aimed at safeguarding the interest of minority shareholders when the board is up for renewal in April.

According to the new guidelines, the new board would have to have a clear majority of directors who are independent from Telecom Italia's biggest shareholder Telco, Telecom Italia said in a statement.

Telco has a 22.4 percent stake in Telecom Italia. It is a holding that has Spanish phone operator Telefonica, with which Telecom Italia competes in Latin America, as its biggest investor. Italian banks Intesa Sanpaolo and Mediobanca and insurer Generali are also core shareholders in Telco.

The new guidelines follow action by rebel minority investor Marco Fossati, who has accused the board of favouring Telefonica and nearly succeeded in throwing the board out at a shareholder meeting in December.

Under the guidelines, the new chairman of Telecom Italia, to be elected at a planned shareholder meeting on April 16, will have to be independent from the biggest investors to represent the interest of all shareholders fairly, Telecom Italia said in a statement on Thursday.

(Reporting by Lisa Jucca, editing by David Evans)