ROME (Reuters) – Activist investment fund Bluebell, together with minority shareholder Merlyn, have presented rival lists of candidates for the renewal of the board of directors of Telecom Italia (TIM), the Italian telephone group said on Saturday .

Shareholders must vote on these lists on April 23.

The current general director, Pietro Labriola, is seeking a second term as part of another list of candidates presented by the outgoing directors of TIM. A fourth list was also presented by the group of small investors ASATI.

Bluebell for its part submits six candidates, including Paola Giannotti De Ponti, former director of TIM, whom the fund proposes for the position of president, but has not presented a candidate for the position of general director, TIM said in a press release .

Merlyn’s list includes 10 names, including former TIM Deputy CEO Stefano Siragusa for the CEO post and former Microsoft executive Umberto Paolucci for president, the phone group added.

The ASATI list does not contain any candidates for the position of general director or president.

The board of directors is renewed as Pietro Labriola comes under pressure due to his flagship plan to sell TIM’s fixed network assets to US fund KKR in order to reduce the telephone group’s historically high debt levels.

TIM’s share price suffered a record fall this month after Pietro Labriola outlined the company’s financial prospects once the assets are sold, a move supported by the Italian government but opposed TIM’s main investor, Vivendi.

With its 24% stake, the French media giant could obstruct the renewal of Pietro Labriola’s mandate if it decides to support a list proposing a new general director. Merlyn, however, said she was in favor of completing the deal with KKR.

TIM shares have fallen more than 23% since the start of the year and were trading at 0.2251 euros at the close on Thursday.

(Reporting by Alvise Armellini, written by William Maclean, Benjamin Mallet)

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