Telecom Italia chairman says focus is on strategy

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 06, 2013 9:03 AM

By Paola Arosio and Giancarlo Navach

CERNOBBIO, Italy (Reuters) - Telecom Italia needs to set out a new strategy before deciding on a possible new partner, Chairman Franco Bernabe said on Friday.

Bernabe said Italy's biggest fixed-line telecoms group, which is the subject of takeover speculation, was not in immediate need of a new investor and ruled out a purely financial partner.

Several sources have told Reuters that both the Telecom Italia's management and the Italian core shareholders are considering alternatives to its current ownership structure.

Telecom Italia is 22.4 percent owned by holding Telco, which is in turn owned by Italian financial services groups - Intesa Sanpaolo and Mediobanca, Generali - and Spanish competitor Telefonica.

"What is required is an industrial plan which could include an industrial partner with Telecom on an equal footing," he said on the sidelines of a business gathering in Cernobbio.

"There is no need for financial investors. We have already been there".

Telco shareholders, which have lost hundreds of millions of euros on their Telecom Italia investment, have the option to decide by September 28 whether to leave their shareholder pact, potentially paving the way for new investors.

Telecom Italia, whose core market Italy is still in recession, is saddled with debt of nearly 29 billion euros ($38 billion) which it needs to reduce rapidly to avoid seeing its credit rating cut to "junk".

($1 = 0.7623 euros)

(Writing and additional reporting by Lisa Jucca; Editing by Erica Billingham)