Swisscom has once again shot down any hopes that Italian broadband provider Fastweb could be available to potential buyers--at least for now.
"We want to further develop Fastweb ourselves," Swisscom CFO Mario Rossi told German financial newspaper Boersen-Zeitung in an interview over the weekend, adding that he expects Fastweb, Italy's third largest broadband operator with 1.9 million customers, to make a sustainable contribution to the group from 2015.
Swisscom has previously put Fastweb off limits to companies prowling around for new fixed-line targets.
Meanwhile Rossi also said the Swiss operator has around 1.7 billion Swiss francs (€1.4 billion) to spend on its own acquisitions in Switzerland and Italy.
Indeed Italy looks set to be the next battleground in Europe: VimpelCom said last week that it is considering a multi-step refinancing plan to improve the capital structure of its Italian telecoms unit Wind in a move that reports suggest could be a first step towards securing a merger for the company, which has debt of around $14.5 billion (€10.5 billion).
Wind competes with Telecom Italia, Vodafone Italy and 3 Italy as the third-largest player on the hard-fought Italian mobile market and has previously been seen as a possible target for Hutchison Whampoa and even former owner Naguib Sawiris, the Egyptian business tycoon.
Wind's Infostrada unit is also seen as a possible contender for Vodafone, which is looking to build up its fixed assets across Europe as part of its fixed and mobile convergence strategy. The company recently agreed to buy Ono in Spain, and sparked speculation that the company's next target could be Italy.
As things stand, Vodafone is adopting a do-it-yourself approach to building fixed assets in Italy. Indeed it is far from certain that the operator would look to buy a fixed operator from the limited options available.
- see this Boersen-Zeitung article (sub. req.)
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