Telecom Italia denies looking for additional funding

Despite robust denials from Telecom Italia's CEO Franco Bernabè, rumours persist that the beleaguered Italian incumbent will have to ask shareholders to put their hands in their pockets or look to outside funding to meet its debt repayments.

Bernabè was reported in the Financial Times saying that it is able to finance its own debts and doesn't need contributions from elsewhere, including Libya's sovereign wealth fund, which has also been mooted in some circles.

The CEO said Telecom Italia's €34 billion net debt was sustainable and the company was reducing the nominal level and able to finance it through the capital markets.

On Tuesday the operator said it was not considering a capital increase and had already refinanced 25% of its debt this year and Bernabè  added it had cut its debt by €1.7 billion in 2008 by "a very strong decline  in costs".

A consortium led by Telefónica of Spain is Telecom Italia's biggest investor, with a 24.5% stake.

On Monday, Tripoli ratified a wide-ranging agreement with Italy that could pave the way for more investment, the FT said.

Last week Telecom Italia announced a fall of just under 10 per cent in net income for 2008 and a cut in its dividend to €0.05 a share from €0.08.