TMCnet Feature
November 12, 2012

Egyptian Billionaire Expresses Interest in Telecom Italia

By Ashok Bindra, TMCnet Contributor

On Monday, Telecom Italia (News - Alert) said that Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris had made an offer to invest in the Italian company burdened with debt problems.

According to the media reports, the Egyptian tycoon has offered to invest some five billion euros (US $6.37 billion) in the company, which would amount to a 30 percent stake.

The Italian company said in a statement, “In the past days the company has received communication from Naguib Sawiris about an interest in investing in Telecom Italia SpA's share capital through underwriting of new stock issuing."

The Associated Press (News - Alert) reports that the Italian telecom giant was reviewing the offer by the Egyptian billionaire Sawiris, who formerly was the chairman and controlling stakeholder of Wind Telecom (News - Alert) SpA, to buy company shares. Sawiris sold Wind Telecom last year to VimpelCom Ltd, headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Although, the Italian giant did not comment on the merits of this investment, the company said in a statement that the investment could help the company grow.

"Evidently, if there is interest in Telecom Italia, it means that there is something very valuable within the company. This interest is welcome," Telecom Italia's chairman, Franco Bernabe told ANSA news agency.

Concurrently, per the AP report, Italy’s Corriere della Sera daily also reported that the offer is for as much as €5 billion (US $6.3 billion). The report indicates that Telecom Italia is considering a spinoff of its fixed-line network and is discussing possible investments with the state lender.

Media reports indicate that Telecom Italia is burdened with a net debt of 29.5 billion euros (US $37.57 billion), which it hopes to cut by two billion euros (US $2.55 billion) by the end of this year.

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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