TIM shareholders have come up with three lists of possible board candidates, one of which includes a proposal for a change of CEO, the name suggested being vehemently opposed to the network sell-off plan.

Mary Lennighan

April 2, 2024

3 Min Read

The three slates are in addition to the one TIM presented a month ago and bring yet more disarray to the already highly troubled Italian incumbent, which is still desperately trying to persuade investors that its plan to sell off its network operations is the right one, despite having had to concede recently that it will trigger an increase in debt.

TIM chief executive Pietro Labriola is championing that plan and the TIM board backs him to carry on doing so with a new term in office. But the alternative slate presented by Merlyn Partners proposes putting former TIM executive Stefano Siragusa into the CEO office, as well as suggesting Umberto Paolucci as the new chairman – while TIM itself named M&A lawyer Alberta Figari – as part of a list of 10 names to sit around the directors' table. Aside from Siragusa, all on the list are independent, TIM noted.

Siragusa served as Deputy General Manager and Chief Network Operations & Wholesale Officer at TIM until he left the company by mutual consent, albeit after extensive chatter about internal disharmony, two years ago. He worked with Merlyn on the alternative strategic plan it sketched out for TIM in October last year, a plan centred on the retention of the telco's network assets and sale of its Consumer and Brazil businesses.

Merlyn holds 0.53% of TIM's ordinary shares, the telco said. While that's clearly a pretty small stake, Merlyn could secure the support of disgruntled major shareholder Vivendi, with its 23.75% holding, potentially putting the cat back amongst the pigeons for the NetCo sale and TIM's strategic direction in general.

Vivendi, incidentally, proposed a list of candidates for TIM's Board of Statutory Auditors, as did a group of minority shareholders, but not for the main board.

Meanwhile, activist investor Bluebell Capital Partners – holder of just over 0.5% of TIM's ordinary shares – has put forward half a dozen candidates for the main board, all independent, including investment banker Paola Giannotti de Ponti, who has sat on the TIM board in the past, as chair.

The third list comes from shareholder group ASATI, which represents small investors together holding 0.53% of TIM. It contains just four names, with none designated as CEO or chair.

There is no overlap between the lists, nor with that already submitted by TIM itself. As an aside, the Merlyn list includes the name Boris di Nemšić, who, despite the Italianisation of his name, we're presuming is none other than the former CEO of Telekom Austria and current chairman of the board of Delta Partners, amongst other things.

TIM has made no real comment on the three alternative slates, as you would expect, other than to note that they will be discussed at the shareholder meeting already scheduled for 23 April.

It's likely that TIM expected a challenge on the composition of the board and possibly on the identity of the executive who will hold the tiller going forward. But whether it saw this coming or not doesn't really change anything. The fact is that TIM faces yet more turmoil, more shareholder drama, and – crucially – more uncertainty over a network sell-off plan that has been in progress for nearly two years.

About the Author(s)

Mary Lennighan

Mary has been following developments in the telecoms industry for more than 20 years. She is currently a freelance journalist, having stepped down as editor of Total Telecom in late 2017; her career history also includes three years at CIT Publications (now part of Telegeography) and a stint at Reuters. Mary's key area of focus is on the business of telecoms, looking at operator strategy and financial performance, as well as regulatory developments, spectrum allocation and the like. She holds a Bachelor's degree in modern languages and an MA in Italian language and literature.

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