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Telecom Italia to cut Argentinian stake?

Telecom Italia's sale of Argentinian unit is in slow process

Speculation was growing on Thursday that Italian incumbent Telecom Italia is seeking to offload its stake in Telecom Argentina.

The Italian operator declined to comment on the reports, but it is believed that the firm has hired advisors to help it sell the holding.

Telecom Italia holds 50 per cent of Sofora Telecomunicaciones, which in turn holds around 68 per cent of Nortel Inversora – Telecom Argentina’s main shareholder with 55 per cent. This gives the Italian firm around 18 per cent of Telecom Argentina.

Telecom Italia shares ownership of Sofora with Argentinean investment firm Werthein Group and has an option on Werthein’s 50 per cent stake. It is believed Telecom Italia has been looking to buy out Werthein but has been thwarted by the Argentine government.

The problem seems to revolve around Spanish carrier Telefonica, which also runs an Argentinian mobile operator. Through an investment vehicle called Telco, Telefonica has indirect ownership of around a quarter of Telecom Italia, presenting something of a problem for Argentina’s competition authority, which has tied up the stake in Telecom Argentina. As a result, Telecom Italia is reported to be looking for a way out of Sofora.


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