Sawiris eyes Telecom Italia, but concerned about Rome [Daily Tribune (Bahrain)]
(Daily Tribune (Bahrain) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) ? ? Egyptian telecoms tycoon Naguib Sawiris said yesterday he was still interested in taking a stake in Telecom Italia but might be discouraged if the Italian government was opposed. In a statement, Sawiris said he was considering a "potential investment in Telecom Italia" but might not submit a proposal "in view of (Italy's)... alleged preference for Telefonica reported in the Italian press." Telecom Italia is seen as an early takeover target in a shake-up of the sector expected to be triggered by Verizon Communications' $130 billion buyout of British operator Vodafone from their U.S. wireless business. The struggling Italian firm's board meets on Sept. 19 to discuss how to push the company forward, including a possible change of the shareholder structure. Italy's largest fixed-line operator telecoms firm by clients is controlled by a group of investors that own 22.4 per cent through corporate holding Telco, with Spanish peer Telefonica the biggest shareholder. In an unsourced report, an Italian newspaper said on Friday that Rome would prefer a merger between Telecom Italia and Telefonica rather than a buy-in by Sawiris. Telecom Italia declined to comment on Sawiris' statement. The Egyptian said last year he was ready to inject 3b euros into Telecom Italia, a proposal that was rejected by the company's board. He said yesterday he had not submitted a new offer. Telecom Italia shareholders have also rejected this year a merger offer from Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa, mainly due to differences over valuation. The company is struggling under a 29b euro debt and shrinking margins in its core market Italy but owns valuable assets in Brazil and Argentina. ? ?
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