The battle for Telecom Italia has all the intrigue of the story of the mafia

He used self-control and sensitivity of Attila the Hun,” said Marina Berlusconi, the eldest daughter of former Prime Minister of Italy Silvio. Her barb was directed at Vincent Bollore, the French tycoon for media giant vivendi, who crossed the Alps to take control of Telecom Italia and attacking the Empire of Berlusconi.

Under normal circumstances, the 66-year-old Bollore is probably proud of compared to the legendary king of the Huns. Mercurial Breton said to enjoy frequent public battles that distinguished his long and successful career as a corporate raider.

This time, however, he was busy, he was arrested and questioned in connection with allegations of corrupt dealings with African politicians. Industrial side Bollore Empire there are links to Francophone Africa for decades, and served as a launching pad for his later achievements media moguldom.

Sprawling Vincent Bollore Empire and raiding has made it one of the biggest names in French business


French investigators arrived at headquarters Bollore on Tuesday EN masse. Bollore was arrested and then indicted on claims that he had illegally won lucrative contracts to operate ports in Guinea and Togo.

In Bollore-controlled advertising group Havas allegedly helped to influence the election in exchange for logistics contracts. Bollore Group is already denied the allegations and said the Chairman “remains innocent” following a rare move against the French business elite, the government, while the President Makron was across the Atlantic, visiting Donald trump. However, legal problems Bollore is a gift for his Italian opponents. And dynasty Berlusconi, he is against Elliott management, the hedge Fund controlled by US billionaire Paul singer and his London-based son Gordon.

Fresh from his successful campaign in the UK to get divided by Whitbread, Elliot has created a dramatic confrontation at the shareholders ‘ meeting Telecom Italia this Friday. The activist, who owns 9pc of the company, is intended to replace the Bollore approved by the Board with the Italian business figures it claims will be more independent. Elliott says, “Telecom Italia” was launched in the interest of Vivendi, for example, by marketing the deal with havas.

Paul singer of Elliot increasingly focused on European companies


“There is no direct connection between the African case, ports and Telecom Italy,” says Francois Godard, of Enders Analysis. “But the arrest Bollore is clearly a push to let people argue in Italy that he is not the right person to control Telecom Italia.”

Elliot jumped to his arrest Bollore right on cue. In a letter to the other Telecom Italia shareholders, he said he was “deeply concerned” development “just the latest instance concerned about the Reputation of the conflict, own interests, and even more serious issues of potential criminality of those who pretend to ask for our confidence in the leadership of Telecom Italia”.

Despite his arrest this week, the vote will be the culmination of a battle that has raised questions about Bollore finally bitten off more than he can chew, taking on Italy and the powerful interests associated with its core broadband network.

It started as a textbook work of Bollore. In 2015, he used Vivendi to gradually take control of the former Italian state-owned telecommunications monopoly.

Vivendi, Bollore itself is controlled through a minority stake, has acquired a piece of Telecom Italia, when it sold its Brazilian Telecom arm, GW, Spain company telefonica. He built the stake up to 24pc, ousted the Board and management, and installed Bollore lieutenants. Observers believed, Bollore and vivendi eyes for a quick sale of Telecom Italia’s profit, but it is not.

“Things didn’t work out as expected, at&T, orange, Deutsche Telekom and even “telefónica” don’t offer,” says Godard. “This fight with Elliott can show that Bollore really has no control of Telecom Italia, undermining the value of his stake. Investment in Italy is like walking in quicksand and now Bollore to his chest.”

The battle of Silvio Berlusconi with Bollore comes as he makes a political comeback


Neither the buyer, Vivendi developed a plan to use Telecom Italia as the basis of expansion efforts in southern Europe. Although not a media player in its own right, its broadband network is a potentially powerful weapon in the debate over the future of pay TV as the movement from satellite to fiber optics. Bollore aims to expand it to seal the Pact with Berlusconi’s family and take to the sky.

In 2016, Vivendi agreed to buy control of Mediaset Premium, the struggling pay-TV arm Teleset Berlusconi’s “mediaset”. The deal quickly soured, however, and Bollore has tried to pull out, claiming the Finance company was significantly worse than has been disclosed. Both sides appealed to Italian courts, the Berlusconi complained Bollore broke the contract and vivendi Mediaset accused of creative accounting.

Bollore went on. As part of the deal, Vivendi took 3.5 PC stake in “Mediaset”. Bollore quickly increased the proportion of up to 29pc in a direct challenge to the control of Berlusconi. Dynasty holding company, Finivest, the management of mediaset through 40 PCs stock. As Bollore besieged Silvio recovered from serious heart surgery, a coincidence that helped turn a personal dispute, as a family, Berlusconi offended.

Telecom Italia is under pressure from the Government to modernize its broadband infrastructure


Approach hard-charging Vivendi also upset by the Italian government and authorities on competition issues, which later forced the French to put part of their share of Mediaset in a blind trust.

In a country where political intrigue is second only to football as the national sport, many in Italy and vivendi now you can see the hand of the former Prime Minister for the attack of Elliot Telecom Italia. Hedge Fund Finivest and not someone else’s. When Silvio Berlusconi tried to sell Milan to a Chinese investor last year, it was Elliot who came in at €128 million (£112M loan) in the case when the buyer tried to collect the money. If Elliot don’t get your money-back in October, the club will be under his control.

Elliot declined the offer, he executes revenge Bollore on Berlusconi’s behalf as a conspiracy theory, noting that if not supported the capture of Milan, the former Prime Minister could continue and the club and what money the Chinese buyer is incorporated in it.

Trying to sell Milan, believed to have been sunk by Elliott


Godard, of Enders, believes that the motive of Elliott is purely financial. “Their approach is bold, but after recognizable ways,” he says. “They bought at a low price and need a company to highlight the basic units to boost stock prices, straight from the script of the film wall Street”.

The approach of Elliott, however, confused some. He called for Telecom Italia to sell its network, the movement is strongly against the user. At the same time, the activist was supported by the Amos Genish, chief Executive of Vivendi brought its own strategy, stop them far from such a radical move and has wide support. “What operator in their right mind would sell their key fixed network”, says Godard.

Elliot’s tactics were similar to those Gordon Gekko, played by Michael Douglas in the movie wall Street


Genish is perhaps the best asset of the company vivendi in battle. The star of the telecoms firmament is highly valued by investors of all stripes, he was very successful in Brazil and sold to vivendi GW. Eliot strives to keep it, even if we manage to oust Vivendi-appointed by the Board of Directors, as the vote approaches, sought to rethink the sale of the network as just the idea of a more independent Board might want to keep in sight.

Signs that the vote is finely balanced, Genish also includes the line. Even if Elliot didn’t succeed in ousting the entire Board, Italian rules vote means the five candidates will be appointed. This weekend, however, Genish made clear that he will not remain, if Elliot provides a complete victory.

“The question for me is not about whose side I’m on”, – told the “Sunday Telegraph”. “I am the CEO of Telecom Italia and I’m with Telecom Italia. The question is whether or not I have shareholders and a Board who’s behind the business plan”.

Amos Genish, center, last week a meeting of the Board of Directors of Telecom Italia

But he added: “I can’t understand how the Director could implement the plan, which he does not believe. 4 may, after the shareholders meeting, we will have a new Board.

“If Vivendi slate does not receive majority of votes, because it’s obviously only slate to support our long-term production plan, I firmly believe, my position as CEO would be untenable.”

Genish rebuilds bridges with Italian officialdom that was burned by aggressive moves earlier Bollore, although the CDP, the national welfare Fund of Italy, took a share in Telecom Italia and, it seems, ago Elliott.

“We need each other”, – said the head of the Executive power, which BT is under pressure to invest more and to work with rivals on ultra-fast broadband investment. “I set a goal to work closely with the government and regulators. I think the relationship has improved dramatically over the last six months.”

Neither Elliot nor Vivendi confident of victory this weekend. Vincent Bollore was joking, he would know Vivendi was when Paul singer came after him. He has his wish, albeit in a less triumphant than hoped.

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