Regulator to rubber-stamp Telefonica’s TI deal in October, or sooner?

4 Sep 2007

A spokesman for Telefonica says the Brazilian telecoms watchdog Anatel is expected to approve its planned acquisition of a stake in Telecom Italia (TI) next month. In an interview with BNamericas, a press officer for the Spanish company commented: ‘We said in the past that we expected to get approval [from Anatel] in October and we’re only in September.’ The matter was dropped from the regulator’s meeting on 30 August, leaving Telefonica hanging.

Meanwhile, Italian press reports claim that the change of ownership at Telecom Italia could even take place by the end of this week. La Stampa says that a Brazilian court is expected to remove an injunction obtained by rival cellco, Claro, within the next few days. Claro opposes the tie-up on competition grounds. With the legal way cleared, Anatel could put the proposed acquisition back on its agenda for a meeting later this week, La Stampa suggests.

The Spanish giant needs the green light from Anatel as it has joint control of the country’s mobile market leader Vivo (with Portugal Telecom) and the Italian firm controls number two player, TIM Brasil. It is understood that Anatel will approve the deal as long as Telefonica remains a sleeping partner at TIM Brasil. The Spanish firm and a consortium of Italian companies purchased a minority stake in TI in April this year. Telefonica also has a 42.3% equity stake in Telco, a new holding company which is hoping to acquire an indirect 18% interest in TI from the Pirelli Group. It estimates its overall stake in the Italian telco will be roughly 10% of its equity. Some local analysts suggest the regulator may not demand a return of any licences as a consequence of the tie-up, even in the lucrative Sao Paulo market.

Brazil, Italy, Telecom Italia (TIM), Telefonica, TIM Participacoes (TIM Brasil)