Telecom Argentina sale investigated by SEC

22 Dec 2009

According to a report by Reuters, the chief executive of Telecom Italia (TI) has revealed that the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had asked the telco to provide documents about the forced sale of its 50% stake in Sofora, the holding company that controls TI’s Argentine unit, Telecom Argentina. ‘We have received this request from the SEC,’ announced Franco Bernabe, adding, ‘When the SEC opens such an investigation the first thing it does is ask for all documents.’ The chief executive also stated that he does not believe that the investigation will delay the sale of Telecom Argentina, however. Meanwhile, Argentine daily La Nacion reports that the SEC has asked for records of communication between TI and the government of Argentina and has requested information on potential buyers and sanctions that the government has applied to TI in Argentina. 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. A number of companies have reportedly expressed an interest in TI’s stake, including six Argentine groups – Grupo America, Grupo Clarin, Telecentro, Grupo Pegasus, Grupo Roman and Inversiones Condor – as well as Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim and Brazilian group Andrade Gutierrez.