Vivendi will not be making an offer to take over Telecom Italia either on its own or with any other potential partner, according to the CEO of the French media group Arnaud de Puyfontaine. “Since we increased our stake, there has been a lot of speculation of Vivendi playing on behalf of Orange . . . but it has never been on the agenda. There has not been any discussion between Vivendi and Orange,” de Puyfontaine told the Financial Times. The Vivendi CEO was responding to French media reports suggesting that his company, Telecom Italia’s largest shareholder with a 20.03 percent stake, had held talks with other investors, including Orange and Egyptian telecoms billionaire Naguib Sawiris over the Italian operator’s future. Last week French billionaire Xavier Niel, founder of internet provider Iliad, increased his holding in Telecom Italia via options that could give him a stake of more than 15 percent in Telecom Italia. “The situation both for Niel and for Naguib Sawiris is the same answer: there has not been a discussion with them about Telecom Italia,” said de Puyfontaine.
However, the Vivendi CEO didn’t completely rule out the possibility that Vivendi may now seek to increase its stake to 24.9 percent, just under the 25 percent threshold that triggers a mandatory takeover offer under Italian market rules. “It would not be wise to dismiss any options,” he said, before adding “it is not at all on the agenda. It would not be consistent with our position not to become owners of telecoms operations.”