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Sawiris, AT&T circle Telecom Italia, but govt keen to resist Cairo cakewalk

6 Sep 2013

Egyptian telecoms tycoon Naguib Sawiris and US communications giant AT&T have reportedly contacted the core investors who want to sell their shares in Telecom Italia (TI), a source close to the situation has revealed to Reuters. TI’s board will convene on 19 September and chairman Franco Bernabe is actively seeking a new investor ahead of the meeting. America Movil, which is owned by Mexico’s Carlos Slim, has ‘categorically denied’ approaching the Italian firm.

However, in a subsequent article the news agency has reported that the Italian government would prefer a merger between TI and Spain’s Telefonica, rather than endorsing a deal to let Sawiris buy into the company. Previously, in December 2012 TI rejected a EUR3 billion (USD3.91 billion) investment offer from Sawiris, who believed he could engineer a strategic turnaround.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, holding company Telco owns a 22.39% stake in TI; Telefonica of Spain has a 46.0% stake in Telco, alongside Italian banks Intesa Sanpaolo and Mediobanca (both 11.6%) and insurer Generali (30.6%). Shareholders have until 28 September to exercise the option to leave the Telco pact early.

Italy, AT&T, Telecom Italia (TIM), Telefonica

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