Telecom Italia Media shares rise on sale hopes

MILAN Mon Dec 3, 2012 7:31am EST

MILAN Dec 3 (Reuters) - Shares in Telecom Italia Media rose more than 3 percent on Monday, on expectations that parent Telecom Italia could be closer to a sale of Italy's third-largest commercial TV broadcaster.

Telecom Italia, which values its 77 percent stake in the Telecom Italia Media at 176 million euros ($229 million), wants to sell the business by the end of the year to help cut its debt of more than 30 billion euros.

"There is speculative trading on the stock awaiting a decision," a Milan trader said. "In general, a sale would be a positive news."

Recession and rising competition in Italy's TV market have complicated the sale. The uncertain economic climate is expected to show up in the buyers' proposed offers. This could disappoint Telecom Italia, which is selling off assets to help reduce its debt burden.

There are four bidders in the running: private equity fund Clessidra, Hutchison Whampoa's Italian telecoms operator, U.S. TV group Discovery Communications and advertising firm Cairo Communication.

They have to submit binding offers by Monday, two weeks after an initial deadline.

The Italian telecoms company, advised on the sale by Mediobanca and Citigroup, will hold a board meeting on Thursday, where it could examine the offers for its media arm along with other important strategy issues.

By 1111 GMT, Telecom Italia Media shares were up 2.15 percent at 0.166 euros, outperforming the European media sector index, which was up 1.2 percent.

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