Bolivia seeks accord with Telecom Italia on Entel

The Bolivian government wants to reach an accord with Telecom Italia SpA on compensation for the Italian firm's 50% share of nationalized telephone company Entel, an EFE report said.

Public Works Minister Oscar Coca told Bolivision TV that President Evo Morales' decree nationalizing Entel establishes that Telecom Italia must be paid for its stake within 60 days, the report said.

'The work will not be unilateral on the part of the government. A dialogue will be sought with the Telecom executives,' the minister said, stressing that La Paz is open to negotiations on the size of the compensation.

Morales announced the nationalization of Entel during a rally marking the second anniversary of his socialist government's move to assert sovereignty over Bolivia's massive reserves of natural gas.

In April 2007, the government took control of the 47% of Entel shares held by a pension fund managed by Swiss and Spanish banks.

Entel began as a state-owned company, but was privatized in the 1990s.

Morales announced in January 2007 his intention to return Entel to state control, but talks with Telecom Italia broke down after the Italian company hauled La Paz before the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, a World Bank entity that Bolivia pulled out of last year.

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