TI given until 25 February to exit Argentina

11 Jan 2010

Italian telecoms operator Telecom Italia (TI) has been given until 25 February 2010 to sell its 50% stake in the holding company that controls Argentine fixed line incumbent Telecom Argentina or face government intervention in the process, BNamericas reports citing local daily El Cronista. Last week the government of Argentina ordered TI to press ahead with the sale of its shareholding in Sofora, as its stake in the holding company violates antitrust legislation; Spain’s Telefonica, which acquired a 24.7% stake in the Italian firm through the Telco consortium in October 2007, already owns Argentina’s other fixed line operator Telefonica de Argentina causing cross-ownership issues. If TI fails to initiate the process, the government could reportedly hire an intervener or use additional tools to pressure the sale such as imposing sanctions. 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.