Gruppo TIM - formerly Telecom Italia - is Italy's traditional leader in telecoms and broadband. In addition to the country's main fixed line network it owns mobile operator TIM and also Olivetti business machines. However, performance has been declining for years, and the merger of rivals Tre and Wind in 2016 pushed TIM Italia into the number #2 position in mobile, with around 35% share. However it still serves some 30.2m subscribers in its domestic market, as well as 16.8m fixed line connections, around half of them with broadband. TIMVision is its IP TV service. TIM also has a significant presence in Brazil, where TIM Brasil is that country's #2 mobile provider with 51.2m customers. It will add another 14.5m customers in 2021 from the break-up of local rival Oi Group. Sparkle is the group's global IT and internet service provider. Yet Telecom Italia has struggled for two decades with crippling debts that have been created by a series of complex mergers and takeovers in which ownership of the business has repeatedly changed hands. These chaotic corporate battles continue to this day. From 2008 to 2014 TIM's biggest shareholder was an investment group controlled by Telefonica of Spain, also its main competitor in Brazil. Telefonica divested its interest in 2015, and instead Vivendi of France emerged as TI's lead shareholder with a controlling 24% stake. As the French group's control of Telecom Italia steadily tightened, Amos Genish, a trusted lieutenant of Vivendi chairman Vincent Bolloré, was appointed as CEO - the group's third in three years - while Vivendi's CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine was appointed as executive chairman. This creeping takeover, and the resulting management turmoil, led to growing resistance from investors led by US activist Elliott Management, who have been calling for the removal of Vivendi-linked directors. Genish was ousted as CEO in 2018 (though he remains a director), and was replaced by Elliott-backed Luigi Gubitosi. Meanwhile, to reduce its debt, the group has steadily offloaded most of its interests in other Latin American markets as well as Italian broadcaster La7 and its controlling stake in MTV Italia. In 2019, it transferred its fixed line infrastructure in Italy into a joint venture with Vodafone, now operating separately as INWIT. A separate joint venture was forged with Santander to offer consumer finance to TIM customers. Group revenues slipped below €20bn for the first time in 2015. The figure for 2019 was just under €18.0bn, with net profit of €1.2bn. Yet the group's debts are still a staggering €28bn. Italy accounted for 78% of revenues, and Brazil for the rest.
Capsule checked 31st Decmber 2020
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Adbrands Weekly Update 10th May 2018: In another setback for French financier Vincent Bolloré, his Vivendi group lost board control of Telecom Italia after its shareholders rejected his proposed line-up of new directors in favour of an alternative team endorsed by US activist investor Elliott. Many Telecom Italia investors have become increasingly frustrated with Vivendi's creeping takeover of one of Italy's most famous corporate jewels via a minority stake. Elliott won just over 49.8% of a shareholder vote on the make-up of the new board, narrowly defeating Vivendi's 47.2% support. That gives Elliott around two-thirds of board representation. Bolloré is also currently under investigation over alleged bribery of government officials in Africa to secure ownership of valuable container ports in Togo and Guinea.
Adbrands Weekly Update 20th Apr 2017: Media tycoon Vincent Bollore, controlling shareholder in Vivendi and Havas, was ordered by regulators to reduce his stake in Italian media giant Mediaset. Bollore has accumulated a hostile stake of almost 29% in Mediaset, the investment vehicle of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, after the two men fell out over a earlier agreement. Bollore also controls the country's main phone company Telecom Italia via a 25% stake. Italian law forbids telecoms companies with more than 40% local share from also controlling more than 10% of the country's media. Mediaset has over 13% share.
Adbrands Weekly Update 24th Mar 2016: Vivendi - the former owner of SFR - increased its shareholding in Telecom Italia to just under 25% and succeeded in persuading incumbent CEO Marco Patuano, who opposes Vivendi's creeping takeover of Italy's national telecoms carrier, to resign. Chairman Giuseppe Recchi will take over on an interim basis.
Adbrands Weekly Update 6th Mar 2014: Mini-network Leagas Delaney scored a major victory with consolidation of all creative duties for longtime on-off client Telecom Italia, following a protracted review which has involved more than ten different agencies around the region.
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