Buyers emerge for Telecom Italia stake in Argentine telco

New buyers have emerged for Telecom Italia’s stake in Telecom Argentina, each offering around €342 million, according to reports. The Italian telco has a 50% stake in Sofora, the holding company for Telecom Argentina.

Argentina’s competition watchdog announced last month that it is forcing Telecom Italia to sell its stake in a bid to be rid of Spain's Telefonica as among the national incumbent's shareholders. Telefonica is the majority shareholder in the consortium that acquired 23.6% of Telecom Italia in October 2007.
Telefonica also provides fixed-line services in Argentina and cross- telco ownership is not permitted. Getting rid of Telecom Italia would also stop it from launching IPTV services in the country.
According to local media reports, citing sources within Telecom Italia, the new interested parties include triple-play operator TeleCentro and private equity fund Pegasus Group . Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim and Brazilian investor Andrade Gutierrez have also expressed an interest n the stake.

Credit Suisse First Boston is conducting the tender for the sale.