Paul Singer's hedge fund Elliott accuses Vivendi of 'short termism' amid a bitter row over Telecom Italia

  • Elliott wrestled control of Telecom Italia's board away from Vivendi earlier this year, after a two-month campaign to overhaul the way the Paris-headquartered firm had been running the company.
  • France's Vivendi said it was "deeply concerned by the disastrous management" at Telecom Italia in recent months, adding the company's figures were suffering as a result.
  • The extraordinary outburst prompted Elliott to strike back on Monday.

U.S. hedge fund Elliott rejected Vivendi's criticism of the management situation at Telecom Italia Monday, saying the French media conglomerate seems to have fallen prey to "short termism."

Elliott wrestled control of Telecom Italia's board away from Vivendi earlier this year, after a two-month campaign to overhaul the way the Paris-headquartered firm had been running the company.

In addition to a governance shake up, Elliott proposed a spin-off and a partial sale of a soon-to-be created network company, a return to dividends and several asset sales.

However, since the New York-based fund took control of Telecom Italia in May, the share price of the former telecoms monopoly has tumbled 35 percent. This despite Elliott having promised to double it within two years, Vivendi said in a statement last week.

France's Vivendi also said it was "deeply concerned by the disastrous management" at Telecom Italia in recent months, adding the company's figures were suffering as a result.

Marc Hill | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The extraordinary outburst prompted Elliott to strike back on Monday.

"Vivendi seems to have fallen prey to the 'short-termism' it has previously decried," Elliott said.

"How can Vivendi avoid responsibility for the state of affairs at (Telecom Italia) when it was in charge for so long and the new board has been seated for so little time?" the company added.

'Storm in a teacup'

Vivendi owns nearly 24 percent of Telecom Italia shares while on the other side Elliott owns just under 9 percent.

In an interview with CNBC on Friday, Telecom Italia Chairman Fulvio Conti sought to downplay an escalating dispute between Elliott and Vivendi.

"I don't see a war. I see someone being uncomfortable — like Vivendi — spreading rumors and news that are not accurate," Conti said.

"We are executing a plan that has been devised and approved by them, actually promoted by them originally … So I see this is as a storm in a teacup," he added.