Telecom Italia (TI) has allegedly received an offer of USD960 million for its Argentine unit from Fintech Investments, writes The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the negotiations. The report comes as TI announces plans to sell assets to slash its EUR28.2 billion (USD37.9 billion) debt, in the face of rising competition in its domestic market and the economic downturn in Europe. According to the sources, Fintech’s USD960 million offer includes various small transactions, though the bulk of the deal involves a USD750 million bid for TI’s 68% stake in Sofora Telecomunicaciones, the holding company that controls Telecom Argentina. TI said the sale of Telecom Argentina, if approved by the Italian firm’s board of directors, could be completed by mid-2014.
CommsUpdate notes that TI’s planned exit from Telecom Argentina follows an announcement by Argentina’s antitrust agency in September 2013 that it will launch an investigate to determine whether a proposal by Spain’s Telefonica to gain control of TI will have competition implications in the country. Telefonica also competes in the Argentine market via wholly-owned fixed line incumbent Telefonica de Argentina (TdA). In 2010 Argentina ended a two-year antitrust investigation of TI and Telefonica, after the government and telecoms companies reached an agreement which sought to limit the Spanish company’s influence over Telecom Argentina.