Investment group in USD835m bid for Telecom Argentina holding company

25 Nov 2009

Argentine investment group Inversiones Condor has offered USD835 million to acquire Sofora, the holding company controlling Telecom Italia’s (TI’s) local unit, incumbent telco Telecom Argentina, BNamericas reports, citing Argentine daily La Nacion. The report states that Inversiones Condor submitted a formal offer to Credit Suisse, which was chosen by TI to evaluate the sale of its 50% stake in Sofora; the remaining half is controlled by Argentine company Grupo Werthein. Condor currently controls fixed-wireless provider Porthable and also participated in the creation of mobile operator CTI Movil, which is now fully owned by Mexican telecoms company America Movil and operates under the Claro brand. Carlos Joost Newbery, head of the investment group, said the company owns several telecoms licences and is also waiting to receive the green light from the regulator, Comision Nacional de Comunicaciones (CNC), to provide additional telecoms services. Other parties previously reported to have expressed an interest in TI’s stake include five Argentine groups – Grupo America, Grupo Clarin, Telecentro, Grupo Pegasus and Grupo Roman – as well as Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim and Brazilian group Andrade Gutierrez.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Argentina’s antitrust agency, the National Commission for the Defense of Competition (CNDC), determined in late August that TI’s 50% stake in Sofora violates antitrust legislation as Spain’s Telefonica, which took a 24.7% stake in the Italian firm, already owns fixed line operator Telefonica de Argentina. On 2 December TI’s board will meet to discuss whether to sell its stake in Sofora or challenge the CNDC’s decision