Marco Patuano (pictured), Telecom Italia CEO, said he was unclear when the planned $960 million sale of the Italian incumbent’s minority stake in Telecom Argentina would get the regulatory thumbs up.
Telecom Italia agreed to sell its 22.7 per cent stake in Telecom Argentina – subject to regulatory approval – to investment firm Fintech Group last November.
Speaking on the sidelines of an event in Rome, and quoted by Reuters, the CEO said he could see no obstacles to the deal but added it was “never possible to have a date when you deal with regulators”.
Under the terms of the agreement struck in November, Fintech will get hold of shares owned directly by Telecom Italia, as well as buying into units of the Italian operator that hold equity in the Argentinian incumbent. The sale of direct and indirect shares will raise $860 million for Telecom Italia.
The outstanding $100 million is to be paid once various agreements have been met. This includes Telecom Italia continuing to provide Telecom Argentina with technical support and other services for up to three years.
Upcoming ownership changes in Telecom Italia could also have an impact on the telecom landscape in Latin America, but the operator in question is Telefonica and the market is Brazil.
This week, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, Italian insurer Assicurazioni Generali’s board agreed to exit Telco, the holding company controlling a 22.4 per cent stake in Telecom Italia (but with a big say on Telecom Italia boardroom appointments).
It paves the way for Telefonica to become the largest single shareholder in Telecom Italia, which is also the majority shareholder in Tim Brasil.
Brazil anti-trust regulator Cade is putting pressure on the Spanish and Latin American giant to either exit its stakeholdings in Tim Brasil or get a new partner for its Vivo mobile subsidiary. Cade was irked that Telefonica broke a 2010 agreement not to up its stake in Telco, giving it what it saw as greater control of the Brazilian market via Telecom Italia.
That pressure may well increase if Cade judges Telefonica to have a greater say on the Telecom Italia board following the changes at Telco.