(Bloomberg) -- Telecom Italia SpA’s chief executive officer defeated an attempt by a group of shareholders to unseat him at the phone carrier’s annual meeting, an outcome expected to speed up the process for a network sale. 

Investors backed three more years for CEO Pietro Labriola and his slate of candidates for the board, the company said in a statement Tuesday, confirming an earlier report by Bloomberg. Corporate lawyer Alberta Figari was indicated as chairman.

Labriola defeated the investment firm Merlyn Partners’ slate as well as activist investor BlueBell Capital Partners’s list, which still each won two directors and one respectively from a total nine. Telecom Italia’s largest investor, French media conglomerate Vivendi SE, abstained, indirectly favoring Labriola’s new mandate. The French company won the majority on Telecom Italia’s board of statutory auditors.

The vote marks a significant victory for Labriola, a veteran telecommunications executive who’s the main architect of Telecom Italia’s planned network sale to KKR & Co., a transformative deal valued at about €19 billion ($20.3 billion) that’s aimed at slashing the carrier’s debt pile. European Union regulatory approval is still pending for network sale. 

Telecom Italia’s investors didn’t approve the phone carrier’s remuneration policy and top management pay, the statement said. 

Vivendi, which owns a 24% stake in Telecom Italia, has doggedly opposed the sale for months and said it won’t accept any offer below €30 billion. 

Telecom Italia has been struggling for years to cut debt and adapt to an increasingly competitive market. The company announced a plan last year to sell its landline network in what would be one of Europe’s largest infrastructure deals. 

Italy’s Finance Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti said earlier this month that the government-backed plan for Telecom Italia is the “only realistic one.”

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