April 1, 2019 / 6:08 PM / 2 months ago

Italian state lender CDP not seeking seats on TIM board for now -sources

LONDON, April 1 (Reuters) - Italian state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), which recently became Telecom Italia's (TIM) second-largest shareholder, is not seeking representation on the phone company's board for now, three sources said on Monday.

Speculation that CDP could ask for board inclusion grew after it raised its stake to 9.9 percent and emerged as a power broker between TIM's two warring shareholders, French media giant Vivendi and U.S. activist fund Elliott.

However, three sources close to the matter said CDP is focused on creating a single broadband operator by merging TIM's network with smaller rival Open Fiber and does not plan any move soon to secure board seats.

The lender controls wholesale broadband group Open Fiber alongside Enel, Italy's biggest utility company.

"CDP is not currently interested in getting one or more board members", one government source said.

Vivendi and Elliott have been trading blows for more than a year on how to revive the former phone monopoly, which is saddled with more than 25 billion euros ($28 billion) of debt.

Vivendi, which owns 23.9 of TIM, had sought to replace TIM Chairman Fulvio Conti and four other Elliott-appointed directors at a shareholder meeting on Friday, citing "substantial lack of independence".

But facing defeat, Vivendi dropped its bid to oust Conti and the four other directors.

Sources told Reuters that CDP has been in talks with Vivendi in the run up to the shareholder meeting to avoid a showdown.

Reporting by Elvira Pollina, Stefano Bernabei Editing by Stephen Jewkes and David Goodman

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