Vivendi ‘hiring Genish as TIM managing director’ as Cattaneo set to go

By:
Alan Burkitt-Gray
Published on:

Flavio Cattaneo ‘negotiating terms’ for leaving Telecom Italia while main shareholder puts in founder of GVT as MD

The biggest shareholder in Telecom Italia wants to put Amos Genish, former CEO of Telefônica Brasil, in as managing director of the Italian operator, which trades as TIM.

Vivendi appointed Genish as chief convergence officer at the start of 2017 after he integrated Telefônica Brasil’s mobile business, Vivo, with its cable TV and fixed network operator GVT.

The appointment is being seen as the reason for the termination of Flavio Cattaneo’s contract as CEO of TIM, a move expected at a board meeting today. Genish founded GVT and Vivendi bought it before selling it to Telefónica.

Telecom Italia gave notice of the board meeting late on Friday evening, when it said the one item on the agenda was the “mutual termination of the relationship” between it and Cattaneo.

Genish’s possible appointment as managing director – with no immediate appointment of a CEO – emerged over the weekend.

Vivendi, the French media group which owns 24% of Telecom Italia, hired Genish in January to oversee the group’s convergence strategy between content, platforms and distribution.

It said at the time that he would be based in London as well as Paris. Now it looks as though he will also be based in Milan and Rome – TIM’s two main offices.

Friday’s news was expected to be the latest stage in the gradual domination of TIM – still officially Telecom Italia – by Vivendi. In early June Vivendi appointed its CEO, Arnaud de Puyfontaine, to be executive chairman of the board of Telecom Italia.

Existing chairman Giuseppe Recchi was demoted at the same time to deputy chairman.

In April Vivendi proposed former Telecom Italia CEO Franco Bernabè to the operator’s board and he could in time emerge as CEO. Bernabè resigned from Telecom Italia in 2013 when the then board rejected his plan to divide the company between an infrastructure operator and a services provider.

Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported that Cattaneo is negotiating compensation from TIM for early termination of his contract, saying that he will get less than €30 million. The newspaper said that Vivendi’s plan to appoint Genish as managing director alongside the current CEO was key in Catteneo’s wish to go.

Genish was appointed to Telefónica Brazil operations in May 2015 following the integration of Vivo and GVT after Vivendi sold GVT to the Telefónica group. He was previously CEO of GVT, an innovative and fast-growing telecom and pay TV operator in Brazil which he co-founded in 1999.