(Adds dropped first name Tarak in penultimate paragraph)
* Shareholders to vote on new board on April 16
* Telco list includes 9 independent directors out of 13
* Chief Executive Marco Patuano remains on board
By Danilo Masoni
MILAN, March 19 Telecom Italia's
largest shareholder, Telco, has proposed as new non-executive
chairman Giuseppe Recchi, currently the chairman of energy group
Eni, in a list of mostly independent candidates for the
Telecom Italia shareholders meet to vote on April 16 when
the current board's three-year term expires.
In a break from the past when the Telco consortium led by
Spain's Telefonica had the power to appoint a majority
of Telecom Italia's directors, Telco on Wednesday proposed
mostly independent candidates for the new board.
The move follows a campaign by minority investors led by 5
percent shareholder Marco Fossati to reduce Telco's influence in
the boardroom after accusing management of not acting in the
interests of minority shareholders.
Fossati on Wednesday proposed his own candidate as chairman,
69-year-old Italian businessman and former Telecom Italia
executive Vito Gamberale, currently the CEO of infrastructure
Fossati's holding company Findim said Gamberale has helped
draw up a new business plan for Telecom Italia which will be
presented to investors in the coming weeks.
In particular Telco's opponents have been worried that
Telefonica could force a sale in Brazil of Telecom Italia's
primary growth business, TIM Participacoes, which
competes with Telefonica Brasil's Vivo.
Brazil's competition regulator wants Telefonica to cut its
indirect interest in TIM Brasil or seek a new partner for Vivo
but has given the Spanish firm until the middle of next year to
find a solution.
The list of 13 directors proposed by Telco includes current
chief executive Marco Patuano, who was appointed last year to
take on the task of reviving the company by cutting its near 27
billion euros ($38 billion) of debt and save cash for much
needed network investments.
"The list ... reflects a suitable blend of managerial and
professional figures and candidates with international
standing," Telco said in a statement.
Telco is owned by Telefonica, Italian insurer Generali
and two banks, Intesa Sanpaolo and Mediobanca
and owns 22.4 percent of Telecom Italia.
Besides Recchi, a former GE manager who joined Eni in
2011 as chairman, Telco's proposed list of board candidates
includes eight other potential independent directors.
In addition Telco wants current directors Tarak Ben Ammar
and Jean Paul Fitoussi reappointed to help provide continuity in
the management, Telco added in the statement.
Telco said Telefonica's representatives in Telco voted in
favour of the list of candidates but did not propose their own.
(Editing by Greg Mahlich)