MILAN (Reuters) - French media group Vivendi (VIV.PA) will have to declare on Monday whether it controls Telecom Italia (TLIT.MI) following a request by Italy’s market watchdog Consob, Il Sole 24 Ore reported.
Consob made the request through French counterpart Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) and Vivendi will have to make public its answer to the AMF, the newspaper said.
Vivendi’s influence in Italy’s telecommunications sector has come under increased scrutiny since the company built up a stake of 24 percent in Telecom Italia and took 29 percent of the country’s biggest commercial broadcaster, Mediaset (MS.MI).
Vivendi, Consob and the AMF all declined to comment on the report.
If Vivendi declared it effectively controls Telecom Italia, it would be forced to consolidate the group’s large debt pile into its accounts and would give the Rome government grounds to step in as it is allowed to do for companies of national interest, the newspaper said.
Telecom Italia said on Friday its board on July 27 had acknowledged that Vivendi was “directing and coordinating” the phone group. However, the issue of whether Vivendi effectively controls it had not been discussed.
Also, Italy’s government is looking into whether Vivendi breached an obligation to notify Rome of its “direction” role at Telecom Italia, a company considered a strategic national asset.
In an interview with newspaper La Stampa last Sunday, Consob Chairman Giuseppe Vegas said there could be a transparency issue around top shareholder Vivendi’s management of Telecom Italia.
Reporting by Valentina Za in Milan and Gus Trompiz in Paris; editing by Dale Hudson and Jason Neely