Telecom Italia Plans to Elevate Pietro Labriola to the CEO Job
(Bloomberg) -- Telecom Italia SpA plans to name General Manager Pietro Labriola as chief executive officer as soon as this month, according to people familiar with the matter, part of a shake-up spurred by KKR & Co. making a preliminary 10.8 billion euro ($12.2 billion) bid for the former phone monopoly.
Labriola could get the top job at a Dec. 17 board meeting, once former CEO Luigi Gubitosi or another board member gives up a seat on the board, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. Labriola, who also runs the company’s Brazilian unit Tim SA, would be the fifth Telecom Italia CEO in fewer than six years.
The 54-year-old Labriola was appointed general manager last week after Gubitosi quit, and he has the support of Vivendi SE, the company’s largest investor, the people said. A telecommunications veteran, Labriola has been at Telecom Italia for about two decades. Formerly the head of landline services for enterprises, he worked in 2013 on one of the company’s first attempts to spin off its phone-line grid.
Representatives for Telecom Italia, Vivendi and KKR declined to comment. No final decision has been taken, and the CEO move could be delayed.
Telecom Italia’s internal committees started reviewing KKR’s offer on Friday, and will probably hire advisers, the people added. The company could also seek to renegotiate an Italian soccer accord worth about $1.1 billion with online sports broadcaster DAZN Group Ltd. That deal has generated less revenue than expected, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg last month.
Gubitosi had tried for years to engineer a merger with Telecom Italia’s smaller, state-backed rival Open Fiber SpA, an attempt to build a national single network. The plan was opposed by Prime Minister Mario Draghi over concerns that it would reestablish a telecommunications monopoly.
Alongside the changes to top management, former Telecom Italia executive Luca Luciani is expected to rejoin the business as head of retail markets and small and medium enterprises in the coming days. Chief Revenue Officer Stefano Siragusa, meanwhile, may return to his former role of chief technical officer overseeing the network, the people said. Neither Luciani nor Siragusa were immediately available to comment.
The Italian government is poised to play a role in the outcome of KKR’s takeover plans, aiming to ensure that strategic assets remain under state control. It will weigh whether to use its so-called Golden Power oversight for handling approaches by foreign companies, Economic Development Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti told lawmakers at a parliamentary hearing in Rome on Thursday.
Draghi’s government has generally welcomed KKR’s interest, with the finance ministry saying in a statement that such moves are “good news for the country.” But unions and politicians have been raising the alarm over a potential breakup of the company and the risk of job cuts.
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