The billionaire Benetton family is withdrawing from its shareholding in Telecom Italia, leaving the path open for Spain’s Telefonica to raise its stake.
All of Telecom Italia's other key investors renewed their commitment agreeing to an exit option in 2011.
Consortium Telco, with a 24.5% stake, is the carrier’s controlling shareholder, and which has Benetton holding company Sintonia as an 8.4% sharehowner. The new look Telco shareholding keeps control in the hands of Telefonica, which holds a 10% indirect stake, together with Italian banks Intesa Sanpaolo, Mediobanca, and insurer Assicurazioni Generali.
The Telco consortium was created in 2007 to maintain Telecom Italia's control after Pirelli sold its key indirect stake. Telefónica paid €2.3 billion in 2007 for a 42% stake in Telco, which converts to a 10% stake in Telecom Italia.
The Benetton family claims it is exiting because of the increasingly poor returns from the carrier.
Sintonia’s 8.4% stake in Telco gave it a 2% shareholding in Telecom Italia, which is currently valued at roughly €300 million and is offset by an equivalent amount of Telco debt. Telco’s other shareholders have first call on Sintonia’s stake, but the consortium has yet to reveal who will acquire the stake.