IRSA bidding for Telecom Argentina stake

27 May 2010

Argentine investment firm IRSA Inversiones Y Representaciones has confirmed it is one of the companies bidding for Telecom Italia’s 50% stake in Sofora, the holding company that controls Argentine fixed line incumbent Telecom Argentina, Dow Jones Newswires reports. In a statement filed with the Buenos Aires stock exchange, IRSA did not specify how much it had offered for the stake, but did reveal that the agreement includes an option to buy the other half of Sofora, which is currently owned by Argentina conglomerate Grupo Werthein. 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 2010 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. That same month local press reported that TI had narrowed down the number of potential buyers to three; IRSA Inversiones y Representaciones, Argentina Airports 2000 (a consortium led by Eduardo Eurnekian and Henry Gutierrez) and local investor Alfredo Roman.

Argentina, Telecom Argentina (incl. Cablevision), Telecom Italia (TIM), Telefonica Argentina (Movistar)