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Italy’s Supreme Court has upheld a ruling that overturned a market regulator resolution indicating that French media group Vivendi had “de facto” control of Telecom Italia.

In 2017, Italian market regulator Consob ruled that Vivendi, the largest shareholder of Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM), assumed control of two-thirds of the company’s board. Vivendi subsequently appealed the ruling.

Activist investor Elliott Management wrested control from Vivendi the following year, but the appeals process proceeded. In 2020, Italy’s highest administrative court annulled Consob’s resolution as a result of Vivendi’s appeal.

Consob proceeded to appeal the annulation, but to no avail. Reuters reports that Italy’s Supreme Court has decided to uphold the initial nullification in favour of Vivendi.

Vivendi seeks influence

The decision could give the French group the option to present its own list of candidates to win TIM’s board control without being compelled to consolidate the telecom company’s financial accounts, including its €25.5 billion debt pile.

No representative of Vivendi currently sits on TIM’s board of directors, according to Reuters. The article notes that the French group’s CEO, who had been on the board for some time, left his seat earlier this month.

The Supreme Court ruling comes as Vivendi calls for changes to Telecom Italia’s governance to better reflect the relative weight of shareholders. When asked to comment on the latest ruling, Vivendi declined. Consob did not immediately respond.

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