April 18, 2018 / 3:45 PM / 7 months ago

Italy court to hear Telecom Italia's appeal against AGM agenda on Friday

MILAN (Reuters) - A court in Milan will hold a hearing on Friday to discuss Telecom Italia’s (TIM) (TLIT.MI) appeal against a decision by its statutory auditors to add a motion proposed by activist fund Elliott to its April 24 AGM agenda, two judicial sources said.

The court hearing will happen behind closed doors involving only the relevant parties, and will be led by judge Elena Riva Crugnola, the sources said. The judge is not expected to decide on the matter during the hearing but will deposit her decision in writing by Monday, the people added.

The decision is a key element in an increasingly fierce battle between Elliott and TIM’s top shareholder Vivendi (VIV.PA).

The activist fund has built up a stake of 9 percent in TIM in a bid to shake-up the way Vivendi has been running Italy’s biggest phone group. The two investors were meant to face off for the first time at the April shareholder meeting.

Paul Singer’s fund had called for six Vivendi-nominated board members, including TIM Chairman and Vivendi CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine, to be replaced with well-known Italian business leaders in a bid to improve governance and strategy.

But following Elliott’s move, eight board members nominated by Vivendi resigned, triggering a vote on a full board renewal at a separate shareholder meeting called for May 4.

Despite the mass resignations, TIM’s statutory auditors included Elliott’s proposal in the agenda for the April meeting - a decision TIM’s board is now challenging in court.

Reporting by Manuela D'Alessandro, writing by Agnieszka Flak

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