Sawiris interested in Telecom Italia stake: report

Egyptian billionaire and telecoms tycoon Naguib Sawiris may be interested in acquiring a stake in Telecom Italia but remains concerned about the Italian government’s alleged preference for a deal involving Spain’s Telefonica, reports Dow Jones Newswires.

Various members of the Telco consortium, which controls 22.4% of Telecom Italia (Milan, Italy), were last week said to be interested in cashing in their shares, with Vodafone (Newbury, UK), SoftBank (Tokyo, Japan) and America Movil (Mexico City, Mexico) all cited as potential buyers.

Egyptian billionaire and telecoms tycoon Naguib Sawiris may be interested in acquiring a stake in Telecom Italia but remains concerned about the Italian government’s alleged preference for a deal involving Spain’s Telefonica, reports Dow Jones Newswires.

Various members of the Telco consortium, which controls 22.4% of Telecom Italia (Milan, Italy), were last week said to be interested in cashing in their shares, with Vodafone (Newbury, UK), SoftBank (Tokyo, Japan) and America Movil (Mexico City, Mexico) all cited as potential buyers.

According to a spokesperson quoted by Dow Jones, Sawiris might also be interested in acquiring a stake in Telecom Italia, although he has yet to make an official offer.

The Egyptian billionaire was involved in negotiations over a stake in Telecom Italia in late 2012 that ultimately proved fruitless and he may have been discouraged by the episode.

Moreover, reports in the Italian press have suggested that authorities would prefer Telefonica, the largest shareholder in Telco, to buy shares put up for sale by other members of the group, including Mediobanca (Milan, Italy), Assicurazioni Generali (Trieste, Italy) and Intesa Sanpaolo (Turin, Italy).

Those investors appear to have been disappointed by the recent performance of the Italian operator, which has faced economic headwinds in its domestic market and has a net debt of some €28 billion ($36.89 billion).

America Movil has been trying to expand its presence in Europe and is currently involved in wrangling over a takeover bid for Dutch incumbent KPN (The Hague, Netherlands), while SoftBank has provided evidence of its interest in opportunities outside Japan with its high-profile acquisition of a controlling stake in Sprint (Overland Park, KS, USA).

Meanwhile, Vodafone has announced plans to use part of the windfall it received from the sale of its stake in Verizon Wireless (New York City, NY, USA) to fund growth in Europe and other regions, and may be interested in European takeover opportunities.