Vivendi writes down Telecom Italia stake by €512M

Vivendi drastically devalued its stake in Telecom Italia, attributing the cut to a reduction in the operator’s share price since a well-publicised boardroom shake-up and risks associated with its industrial strategy.

In its earnings call for Q2 Vivendi said although it had confidence in the operator’s three year plan, unveiled while it still controlled the Telecom Italia board, there were risks associated with its execution.

Vivendi CFO, and former Telecom Italia director, Herve Philippe (pictured), added the €512 million write down accounted for the company’s “lower power to participate in Telecom Italia’s financial and operating policy decisions”.

Despite being the operator’s largest single shareholder with a stake just below 24 per cent, it lost control of the Telecom Italia board on 4 May following a fierce battle with activist investor Elliott Management.

The majority of executives at the operator’s helm are now independent directors.

After initially voicing criticism of the plan and casting doubt on the future of Vivendi-appointed CEO Amos Genish, the newly elected executive team agreed to stick to the strategy previously outlined.

On the day of the board election its shares were trading at €0.86. By the end of June this had fallen to €0.64.

Universal sale
Elsewhere, Vivendi – which has a large number of diverse assets primarily in the media and communications sector – announced it would sell 50 per cent of Universal Music after dismissing a speculated IPO of the business “due to its complexity”.

The company is set to appoint banks to look for a buyer with a view to striking a deal towards the end of the year and completing the transaction 18 months later.
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