BlackRock insists it complied with Italian disclosure rules on Telecom Italia stake

By Nicel Jane Avellana

Dec 16, 2013 06:38 AM EST

BlackRock Inc said it followed disclosure rules in its stake in Telecom Italia SpA, Bloomberg reported. The company issued the statement after an Italian market regulator said in a newspaper interview that BlackRock may have violated rules for its failure to report an increase in the stake it held in Telecom Italia SpA. BlackRock is the largest money manager in the world, providing institutional clients and retail investors with diversified investment management services.

In an emailed statement to Bloomberg, BlackRock said it held a 7.78% stake in Telecom Italia as of yesterday. In a December 9 filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, BlackRock said it held 10.14% in the telecommunications firm. However, BlackRock said the difference is because there are some bonds that are convertible to shares in Telecom Italia. Although the Italian regulator requires holdings that go over the 10% threshold to be reported, the convertible bond held by the investment firm is not pertinent to its disclosure obligations in Italy since the shares of these bonds have not yet been issued, BlackRock said.

A stake of 7.8% makes the New York-based investment company the second largest investor in Telecom Italia. An investment firm controlled by Spain's Telefonica is the largest stakeholder. The report said shareholders of Telecom Italia will hold a meeting on December 20 to vote on the matter of issuing new stock for the convertible bond. The meeting will also tackle a motion by Marco Fossati, a minor investor, to get rid of the current board. Fossati said Telefonica and its partners have too much influence on the existing board.

For the shareholder meeting, BlackRock said it registered around 796.7 million shares in the telecommunications firm, which is equivalent to around 5.94%.

Italian market regulator Consob Chairman Giuseppe Vegas said in an interview with newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore that BlackRock should have told them and that they will conduct a probe on whether the investment firm acted on its own or in behalf of another party, the report said.

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