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Benetton to exit Telecom Italia

29 октября 2009

Italy’s Benetton family is to quit a shareholder consortium that controls Telecom Italia in a move that could see Spain’s Telefónica raise its stake in the Italian telecoms group in spite of some political opposition to its presence.

The Benettons own about 2 per cent of Telecom Italia through their Sintonia holding company, which owns a stake in Telco, the telecoms group’s biggest shareholder with a 24.5 per cent stake. But the family is understood to be leaving because of disappointment with the investment, which dates back to 2001, and as it looks to raise funds to invest in other assets the family owns, which include motorways and airports.

Telefónica paid €2.3bn in 2007 to take a 42 per cent stake in Telco, giving it a 10 per cent stake in Telecom Italia. As well as Sintonia, the other investors in Telco are the Italian financial institutions Mediobanca, Generali and Intesa Sanpaolo. Their shareholder agreement expires next April, but the members were obliged to indicate by Wednesday whether or not they wanted to renew it.

In a statement on Wednesday night, Mediobanca said all Telco shareholders except Sintonia had agreed to extend the pact to April 2013, with an exit clause in 2011. They had also agreed to “consider and evaluate” how the Benettons should exit “provided that they share the view to complete the exit in a short time frame, possibly by the end of November.”

Sintonia’s 8.4 per cent stake in Telco gives it a stake in Telecom Italia of just over 2 per cent, which has a current market valuation of about €300m, which is offset by an equivalent amount of Telco debt. Telco’s other shareholders have first call on Sintonia’s stake, but it was not clear last night how the sale would proceed since the financial investors are thought unlikely to want to increase their exposure to Telecom Italia.

Telefónica told the FT earlier this month it was “very happy with its position in Telecom Italia through Telco.” The Italian government has signalled its concerns about the Spanish giant’s stake in the group, which is Italy’s dominant telecoms provider. Ministers have not said the stake should be sold, but one said recently Telefonica’s presence as a shareholder was “problematic”.

Analysts said the change in the make-up of Telco was unlikely to have any significant strategic impact on Telecom Italia, which is cutting costs to improve profitability in a sluggish Italian and global telecoms market. The company reported revenues of €14bn for the six months to the end of June, and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of €5.7bn.

Источник: Financial Times

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