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Tuesday, 27 November 2012 10:25

Roman telecoms saved by Egyptians

Written by Nick Farrell



This is not a repeat from 264 BC

The hopeless Telecom Italia has just received an offer of help from the Egyptian entrepreneur Naguib Sawiris. The company is saddled with debts and forces the country to use a broadband service which is one stage up from a bean tin and a piece of string.

Sawiris wants to shake up debt-laden Telecom Italia and steer it towards expansion in Brazil if shareholders warm up to his proposal for a 3 billion euro cash infusion. The billionaire knows Italy well, he owned the third-biggest mobile operator Wind and has put on the table a capital increase that could make him one of the biggest shareholders in Telecom Italia.

Sawiris told Reuters that he proposed that the capital increase be open to all shareholders, not just himself, and that it should be conducted around the current market price of 0.70 euros per share. Of course this will miff other Telecom Italia shareholders, including Spain's Telefonica and the three Italian financial institutions who together own 22.4 percent of the outfit. It seems that the other investors are a little miffed that they could be shut out by Sawiris and the value of their shares reduced.

Sawiris has already opposed a current plan to spin off Telecom Italia's fixed-line network, which is backed by some core investors as a way to raise badly needed cash, and by the Italian government as a means to speed up broadband investment. He said that Telecom Italia did that that, they will lose the only differentiator they have left in the telecom market in Italy.

More here.

Nick Farrell

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