July 11, 2017 / 4:24 PM / a year ago

Telecom Italia CEO denies rumours he may leave

ROME/MILAN, July 11 (Reuters) - Telecom Italia Chief Executive Flavio Cattaneo on Tuesday sought to quash speculation he may soon leave the phone group due to disagreements with top shareholder Vivendi as sources said tensions remained.

Cattaneo took over as CEO a little more than a year ago, earning praise from the French media group and other investors for cutting costs at the heavily indebted firm.

But in recent weeks he has engaged in a heated exchange with government officials over the rollout of ultrafast broadband across Italy, ruffling feathers at Vivendi.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event in Rome, Cattaneo denied there were any tensions with Telecom Italia’s shareholders, board or the group’s chairman Arnaud de Puyfontaine, who is also Vivendi’s chief executive.

Cattaneo said rumours he may leave were false and he would remain at Telecom Italia until the end of his mandate in 2020.

However, a source familiar with the matter said tensions with Vivendi persisted. A second source said the situation may soon be coming to a head.

Telecom Italia declined to comment.

Cattaneo, 54, was appointed last year after his predecessor resigned over strategy clashes with Vivendi. The French firm controlled by billionaire Vincent Bollore backed Cattaneo’s promotion to CEO from board member.

Telecom Italia has been at loggerheads with Rome over the roll out of superfast internet in so-called non-economically viable areas. (Reporting by Alberto Sisto, Giancarlo Navach and Paola Arosio, editing by David Evans)

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