Telecom Italia shareholders debate company future

Telecom Italia's major shareholders have reportedly commenced discussions regarding the future of the struggling company - and are leaving the possibility of a Telefonica merger on the table.
 
Parties including Telecom Italia's three biggest Italian shareholders – financial groups Mediobanca, Intesa Sanpaolo and Generali – have began what have been described as informal, preliminary talks, sources told FT.com.
 
But opinions on the best course to take are divided, with some calling for a merger with an industrial partner, and others hoping Telecom Italia will stay independent, according to people familiar with the discussions.
 
Talks on a Telefonica merger are focusing on whether such a merger would be feasible, and whether Italians would approve of the loss of a major national company. There is also debate over whether the merger would be in the best interests of either company.
 
The parties have not set a deadline for talks to conclude, but hope to reach consensus before the northern summer.
 
Shareholders are unhappy at Telecom Italia’s sagging stock price. Worth more than €2 in 2007, it is trading at €1.12 today.
 
Rumours of a Telefonica-Telecom Italia merger have been circulating for months, but have been repeatedly denied by the companies themselves, as well as the Italian government.

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