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Keywords:

  • Shareholder activism;
  • ownership structure;
  • mergers and acquisitions;
  • investor protection

I examine the treatment of minority shareholders and shareholder activism following Olivetti’s successful hostile acquisition of a majority stake in Telecom Italia in 1999. Overall, the evidence is mixed. While Olivetti pursued several operations perceived to be detrimental to Telecom Italia’s minority shareholders, they were atypically vigorous in fighting back. In several cases, Olivetti was forced to abandon or improve the terms of the operations. While Telecom Italia was vulnerable to a hostile takeover attack following its privatisation, the concentration of ownership of listed companies ensures that hostile takeovers will remain rare. Moreover, low participation rates at annual meetings among small investors serves to enhance the power of the controlling blocks.