Telecom Italia said on Monday it had not received any information from U.S. money manager BlackRock regarding an increase in its stake in the Italian telecoms group to 10.14 percent, as shown by U.S. regulatory filings.
A stake of 10.1 percent would make BlackRock (New York City, NY, USA) the second biggest shareholder in Telecom Italia (Milan, Italy) after holding company Telco, and give it a potentially pivotal role at a shareholder vote on Friday on whether to oust the board of the company.
The future of the phone company's board is in question because of complaints of conflicts of interest and the possible sale of its Brazilian mobile unit TIM Participacoes (Rio de Janeiro).
Telecom Italia said that as of December 13 BlackRock had not submitted any communications that would entitle it to vote at the December 20 meeting, but added there was still time to do so.
Telecom Italia said it had asked BlackRock for clarifications on its move, including through a formal request submitted on December 14, but had received no answer.
ANSA news agency quoted on Monday a statement by BlackRock in which the world's biggest money manager said it held 7.78 percent in Telecom Italia's voting capital, adding it owned 0.006 percent in American Depositary Receipts (ADRs), while the rest of its holding was in convertible debt.
Filings made to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) show that BlackRock doubled its stake in Telecom Italia to 10.1 percent at the end of November.
Under Italian market rules a crossing of the 10 percent threshold must be notified to regulators.
BlackRock informed the SEC at the beginning of December, but it did not tell Italian market watchdog Consob within a five-day deadline from the stake increase as required, the watchdog's chief was quoted as saying on Sunday.
Consob head Giuseppe Vegas told daily Il Sole 24 Ore that it had asked the U.S. group to make a statement on the size of its holding ahead of the Italian market opening on Monday and on what its intentions were at the shareholder meeting.
A source familiar with the matter said at the weekend BlackRock was still in compliance with Italian law, as its stake only exceeds 10 percent if Telecom Italia convertible bonds the investor bought were included, and such bonds do not count as equity holdings outside the United States.
(Reporting by Valentina Za; Editing by Mark Potter and Louise Heavens)