Telecom Italia’s (TI) board has given the company’s senior management the go-ahead to look at the possibility of combining its Brazilian mobile operations with integrated operator Oi.
It had been reported that Marco Patuano, TI’s CEO, would propose at a board meeting on Friday that the company should pursue an acquisition of Oi, which is the fourth largest mobile operator in Brazil, but largest fixed player.
TI holds a 67 per cent stake in Brazilian number-two mobile operator TIM Participacoes, which is seen as vulnerable due to being the only national mobile player without a fixed business.
There have since been reports that Oi and fellow mobile players America Movil (Claro) and Telefonica (Vivo) have been putting together a joint bid to acquire TIM and share its assets among themselves. However, Oi has denied this is the case.
A statement made by TI on Friday said its board of directors has “empowered management to examine in depth the options for a possible integration of TimPart and Oi”.
Any next steps will be submitted to the board for approval after the opinion of the committee of independent directors has been sought.
According to Reuters sources, Patuano’s case for pursuing a deal with Oi is based on the potential cost savings of combining TIM with Oi.
TI also confirmed an expected agreement to sell 6,481 towers in Brazil to American Tower for more than €900 million.
And Patuano informed the board that he sent a proposal to Italian asset management company F2i Sgr, formalising TI’s interest in starting discussions “as soon as possible” about the acquisition of a controlling stake in Italian fixed provider Metroweb.
The company has identified a partnership with Metroweb as a way to speed up the development of “ultrabroadband” networks through fibre-to-the-home and fibre-to-the-building infrastructure in major Italian cities.
According to TI, one benefit of a deal with Metroweb would be to spread the availability of broadband services with speeds of up to 100Mb/s.