Mar 25, 2023
Cellnex Set to Meet to Discuss New CEO As Activist Billionaire Hohn Takes Aim at Board
(Bloomberg) -- Cellnex Telecom SA’s board is set to meet as early as Monday for the first time since an activist investor demanded the removal of its chairman over the handling of a search for a new chief executive officer.
The 11-member board already has a list with several potential candidates for the CEO position, including former chairman Marco Patuano, according to two people familiar with the matter, who cannot be named as the process is private. No frontrunner has emerged and the board could still opt for an internal replacement, according to the people. Eight board members are required to approve naming a new CEO.
TCI Fund surprised investors and the company alike on March 23 when it issued a letter to the board demanding the replacement of three directors, including Chairman Bertrand Kan. The letter, signed by TCI founder Chris Hohn, argued that the company has a lot of potential for growth but is being “held back by poor corporate governance” and that the process to name a replacement for CEO Tobías Martínez had been mishandled.
Read More: Cellnex Faces Hiring Dilemma as CEO Who Piloted Growth Exits
A press officer for Cellnex declined to comment.
Martínez announced in January that he plans to step down once a replacement is found. He currently holds a seat on the board.
TCI backs the nomination of Patuano, best known as a former CEO of Telecom Italia SpA, to replace Martínez. Patuano served as non-executive chairman of Cellnex for about a year between 2018 and 2019, when he was named by Edizione Holding SpA, the investment group of Italy’ s Benetton family. At the time, Edizione was the largest shareholder in Cellnex with about 29% but the stake now stands at about 8%.
On the same day as it issued the letter, regulatory filings showed that TCI had become the biggest shareholder in Cellnex with 9%.
News of next week´s board meeting and Patuano´s name was first reported by newspaper Expansion.
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