June 25, 2018 / 8:50 PM / 24 days ago

Telecom Italia board still backs CEO after regrets over director criticism

MILAN (Reuters) - Telecom Italia (TIM) said on Monday its board still backed chief executive Amos Genish after he expressed regret over recent comments made about some of its members.

Telecom Italia CEO Amos Genish looks on during a debate at the RAI state television headquarters in Rome, Italy November 10, 2017. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

Last week Genish said there were some individual directors on the TIM board who were “feeding untrue, unreliable, speculation” behind the scenes, interfering with its everyday management.

In a statement on Monday TIM said that after clarification by the CEO the board acknowledged his regret for having made inappropriate comments which, it said, had been amplified by the media.

“As a result of the discussion, the board confirms that its members share a common vision and objectives for TIM, and continue to support the management team,” it said.

Genish said last week he was committed to TIM, dismissing suggestions he could leave early following a reshuffle after U.S. activist fund Elliott wrestled board control from top shareholder Vivendi. [nL8N1TM46F]

But the Israeli-born executive said all board members needed to act in accordance with their mandate of being independent and non-executive.

After its boardroom coup last month, Elliott appointed 10 independent directors - or two-thirds of seats - to TIM’s board.

A source close to the situation said on Monday that while some board member positions remained distant it was in no one’s interest to change things.

“There’s too much uncertainty, we don’t even know the position of the (new) government on the idea of separation of the network,” the source said.

In March, TIM officially kicked off the process to put its fixed-line network into a legally separate company, fully controlled by the former state phone monopoly.

Elliott and Vivendi have been at loggerheads since March over TIM, with Elliott accusing Vivendi of serving only its own interests and the French media group saying Elliott was looking only for short-term financial gains.

In May Vivendi threatened to call a new shareholder meeting to change the Italian company’s board, two weeks after it lost control to Elliott.[nL5N1SO646]

Reporting by Stephen Jewkes, additional reporting by Stefano Rebaudo; Editing by Alexander Smith and Peter Graff

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