Telecom Italia top investor wants ENI's Recchi as chairman: sources

MILAN Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:10pm EDT

ENI President Giuseppe Recchi poses during a meeting organized by young Confindustria members in Santa Margherita Ligure June 11, 2011. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

ENI President Giuseppe Recchi poses during a meeting organized by young Confindustria members in Santa Margherita Ligure June 11, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Remo Casilli

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MILAN (Reuters) - Telecom Italia's (TLIT.MI) top investor will propose ENI (ENI.MI) Chairman Giuseppe Recchi as its candidate to chair the company, Italy's No. 1 telecoms group, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters on Tuesday.

The board of Telco, Telecom Italia's biggest shareholder, will meet on Wednesday to approve a list of board candidates ahead of a shareholder meeting in April that is due to choose a new board for Telecom Italia.

The chief executive of Telecom Italia, Marco Patuano, who is trying to turn around the group by cutting debt and boosting investment in a high-speed network, is set to stay on, several sources close to the shareholders told Reuters last week.

The choice of Recchi, who is considered independent from Telco, is an attempt to appease rebel shareholder Marco Fossati, who has been saying that Telco was too aligned with the interests of Spain's Telefonica (TEF.MC), which is both an investor in Telco and a competitor of Telecom Italia.

Telco, the investment vehicle owned by Telefonica and its Italian partners Generali, Intesa Sanpaolo and Mediobanca, controls Telecom Italia with a 22.4 percent stake.

It was not possible to contact Recchi for a comment. ENI and Telco declined to comment.

At Telecom Italia, Recchi would replace Aldo Minucci, who became interim chairman following the resignation in October of long-standing Chairman and CEO Franco Bernabe.

Recchi, a former executive at General Electric (GE.N) and a member of the European Advisory Board of private equity group Blackstone, was appointed chairman of Eni in 2011.

His mandate at the oil major, which is partly state-owned, expires in May, when Eni is due to renew his board. Eni CEO Paolo Scaroni, now in his third term in office, also comes up for review at the shareholder meeting.

One industry ministry source said on Monday the new center-left government of Matteo Renzi could opt for new faces to fill the top jobs at Eni and other state-owned companies.

(Reporting by Paola Arosio and Lisa Jucca, additional reporting by Stephen Jewkes, editing by Silvia Aloisi and Leslie Adler)

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