Telecom Italia Is Set to Name Luigi Gubitosi as CEO

(Bloomberg) -- Telecom Italia SpA is set to name former Merrill Lynch banker Luigi Gubitosi as its new chief executive officer after Amos Genish was ousted this week by allies of an activist shareholder, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company’s 10 board directors who are backed by Elliott Management Corp agreed on Gubitosi during a conference call they held Saturday, the people said, asking not to be named since the discussions are confidential. Gubitosi needs the backing of at least eight out of the 15 directors to clinch the job at the former telecoms monopoly.

Telecom Italia’s full board will meet on Sunday for a final vote, and a nomination committee is scheduled to formally recommend the name. A spokesman for Telecom Italia declined to comment.

Gubitosi held an edge over former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV manager Alfredo Altavilla as the favorite to lead Italy’s biggest telecom company.

He’s the top contender because of his telecommunications and media experience, the people said. The 57-year-old corporate turnaround specialist led Telecom Italia’s mobile rival Wind Telecomunicazioni SpA and state-owned television network RAI before the government made him special administrator of bankrupt airline Alitalia last year.

The board has been scrambling to restore stability to Telecom Italia, since Elliott’s allies ousted Genish as CEO on Tuesday after he resisted their call to spin off the company’s landline network. Genish was parachuted into the role a little over a year ago by Vivendi SA, the company’s largest shareholder. Either replacement would be a win for Elliott, which took control of the board in May.

Gubitosi would take the reins at a company weighed down by net debt of 25 billion euros ($29 billion) and heavy pension liabilities. The carrier hasn’t paid a dividend on its ordinary shares since 2013 and is also facing fresh competition in its home market, with the entry of discount wireless carrier Iliad SA this year.

His role at Alitalia underscores his influence in Rome political circles. He was country manager and head of corporate and investment banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Italy from 2011 to 2012.

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