Vivendi tells EU it may control Telecom Italia after shareholder meeting: sources

FILE PHOTO - The Vivendi logo is pictured at the main entrance of the entertainment-to-telecoms conglomerate headquarters in Paris, March 10, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

MILAN (Reuters) - French media group Vivendi VIV.PA has told the European Commission it could "de facto" control Telecom Italia TLIT.MI after a shareholder meeting next month appoints a new board of directors, three sources close to the matter said.

The group, which is Telecom Italia’s top shareholder with a 24 percent stake, filed a pre-emptive notification to the Commission as it seeks to win two-thirds of the company’s board seats, two of the sources said.

To do this it needs to get its slate of nominees approved by a majority of shareholders at the May 4 meeting.

An EU Commission spokesman confirmed that it had received a notification from Vivendi and would rule on the matter by May 12.

“The investigation is ongoing,” spokesman Ricardo Cardoso said.

Sources told Reuters last week that Vivendi was also considering putting its chief executive Arnaud de Puyfontaine forward as Telecom Italia’s next chairman, potentially aggravating concerns about the French group’s growing influence over Italian companies.

Vivendi's influence at Telecom Italia has come under the spotlight after it took a significant holding in Italian broadcaster Mediaset MS.MI, leading to speculation over whether it plans to combine the two companies.

Vivendi has until now always maintained that it does not control Telecom Italia.

Reporting by Stefano Rebaudo, Mathieu Rosemain and Foo Yun Chee, writing by Silvia Aloisi