US telco AT&T Inc has pulled out of negotiations to buy a stake in Telecom Italia’s controlling investor, Olimpia. The firm cited ‘possible regulatory difficulties’ as the reason behind its decision; the Italian government is keen to push through legislation which would force Telecom Italia to separate its fixed line networks business into a new unit and this may have deterred the US operator. Pirelli, which is selling part of its 80% stake in Olimpia, says it will continue to explore ‘all the possible options aimed at ensuring the best strategic value for all shareholders’, Dow Jones reports. Mexico’s América Móvil group is still in talks with Pirelli about taking a one-third share of Olimpia, a company which holds 18% of Telecom Italia.
Meanwhile, France Télécom has joined the list of possible buyers following the news that it has hired bankers to advise on a potential bid. It joins a list of interested parties which includes Telefónica of Spain and a consortium of Italian banks. The Italian government is known to favour the controlling stake in Telecom Italia staying with local investors although it says it will not interfere with the process. The newly elected Telecom Italia board is due to meet today to decide who will fill executive positions, including the vacant chairman role.