Telecom Italia appoints Minucci as chairman, agrees on Brazil unit safeguards

Telecom Italia appointed Aldo Minucci as its new chairman at its management board meeting on Thursday, filling a position that has been vacant since the resignation of former CEO and chairman Franco Bernabe last October.

It had been speculated that Vito Gamberale, CEO of infrastructure fund F2i, would be appointed to the position. The Italian incumbent said in a statement that Minucci, who previously held the office of vice chairman, would be appointed "without any changes to the existing powers vested in the CEO, Marco Patuano".

Bloomberg also reported that Minucci told the website Firstonline in an interview that he will only serve in the position until a new board is chosen in April. "I will guarantee the rights of all shareholders, with an eye on governance," Minucci said in the interview.

The company said it would examine corporate governance issues at a meeting on Feb. 27.

As had been anticipated, the board of directors also approved a procedure to "manage any extraordinary transactions" involving its Brazilian business, which Telecom Italia insists is strategic for the group.

In its statement the company did not provide full details of the new procedure, but did confirm it would also apply to possible transactions involving assets or branches of business for a value exceeding €2 billion ($2.7 billion).

In January Telecom Italia said it would implement "enhanced" controls on any dealings related to its Brazilian business by ensuring that independent directors would evaluate any potential sale of Tim Brasil.

The move reflects the Italian company's desire to distance itself from claims of conflicts of interest between Telefónica and Telecom Italia.

Minority Telecom Italia shareholders including Findim owner Marco Fossati believe that Telefónica, which has agreed to a gradual takeover of Telecom Italia through the Telco shareholder vehicle, could force a sale of Tim Brasil to strengthen its own Vivo unit in the South American country.

Also at Thursday's meeting, Telecom Italia's board of directors decided to cancel the hybrid bond issue programme for a total of €3 billion. Reuters noted this was a direct consequence of an earlier decision by rating agencies not to treat this type of bond as equity.

For more:
- see this Telecom Italia statement
- see this Reuters article
- see this Bloomberg article

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