TI receives new offer for Argentine unit?

24 Mar 2010

Brazilian businessman Nelson Tanure has held talks with Telecom Italia (TI) about a possible USD680 million offer for its 50% stake in Sofora, the holding company that controls Argentine fixed line incumbent Telecom Argentina, Dow Jones Newswires reports, citing local media. The report adds that the value of Tanure’s possible offer is the highest TI has received so far for the stake. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, TI has sought to sell its shareholding in Sofora after Argentina’s antitrust agency ruled in August 2009 that the stake violated antitrust legislation, as Spanish telecom group 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. In February 2009 a court revoked the antitrust agency’s ruling which ordered TI to sell its 50% stake in Sofora, leading the government to begin a fresh investigation into a possible monopoly in the telecoms sector.

A number of parties have so far expressed an interest in acquiring TI’s stake, including: Grupo America; Grupo Clarin; Grupo Roman; Carlos Slim, who owns mobile company America Movil; Brazilian group Andrade Gutierrez; private equity outfit Pegasus Group; triple-play operator Telecentro; and property development firm IRSA Inversiones y Representaciones.