Vivendi cements position as Telecom Italia's largest shareholder

French media company Vivendi strengthened its hold on Telecom Italia by further increasing its stake in the Italian operator in early September.

A disclosure by the Italian stock market regulator Consob revealed that Vivendi increased its stake in Telecom Italia from 14.9 per cent to 15.5 per cent earlier this month, Bloomberg reported. The news agency said the increase takes the value of Vivendi's holding in Telecom Italia to €3.3 billion ($3.7 billion) and increases the sway Vivendi holds in the Italian operator.

Vivendi CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine earlier this week said that Telecom Italia forms a beach head in the media company's plan to develop its business in Southern Europe. At the time, de Puyfontaine refused to rule out a further increase in Vivendi's stake in Telecom Italia as part of that plan, Bloomberg reported.

The news agency added that the news about Vivendi's latest stake increase resulted in a near 4 per cent rise in Telecom Italia's stock price towards the end of trading on Wednesday, when details of the Consob filing emerged.

Vivendi became the largest shareholder in Telecom Italia in June when it acquired Telefónica's 8.3 per cent stake in the Italian operator as part of a deal to sell Brazilian broadband company Global Village Telecom (GVT) to the Spanish operator. Vivendi then acquired the remainder of its previous 14.9 per cent holding on the open market.

At the time, the media company explained Italy's position as a key market for its future strategy, noting that the stake in Telecom Italia provided it with a foothold in a country with which it shared a common culture and roots.

Vivendi said the investment offered it an opportunity "to be present and to expand in a market with significant growth prospects and a very strong appetite for quality content."

The media company is keen to increase its position in Italy to stave off competition from traditional rivals including Sky, and media companies including Google and Apple, Bloomberg noted.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg report

Related articles:
Vivendi chief says Telecom Italia stake rise would be a long-term play
Vivendi becomes largest Telecom Italia shareholder with almost 15%
Telefónica completes GVT acquisition
Altice offers €3.9B for rest of Numericable-SFR
Generali cut Telecom Italia stake as Vivendi moved to become largest shareholder