Cesar Alierta and Julio Linares have quit the board of Telecom Italia in a bid to gain approval for an acquisition by partner Telefonica in Brazil.
Although the pair made no comment on the reason for quitting, a separate statement by Telefonica suggests concern over a potential conflict of interest in a deal to increase its stake in Vivo in Brazil. Linares also ruled himself out of re-election at a shareholder’s meeting scheduled for December 20
Telefonica is in the process of acquiring Portugal Telecom’s 50% stake in Vivo subsidiary Brasilcel, but a 66% holding in Italian firm Telco SpA also gives Telefonica indirect voting rights of 14.96% in Telecom Italia, which operates Vivo rival TIM Brazil.
Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defense is concerned about a monopoly forming, and is urging Telefonica to sell on the Vivo stake to a capable third party, or distance itself from control of TIM Brazil.