UPDATE 1-Telefonica sells Telecom Italia bonds for a profit - source

Fri Jun 20, 2014 11:24am EDT

* Telefonica sold 139 mln euros of Tel Italia bonds - source

* Raises questions over future role in Tel Italia - analyst

* Tel Italia shares down 2.2 pct, Telefoncia down 0.2 pct (Adds analyst view, shares)

MADRID/MILAN, June 20 (Reuters) - Telefonica has sold bonds it held which are convertible into Telecom Italia shares, a source at the Spanish group said on Friday, raising questions among market players about its commitment to the Italian phone company.

The move comes as Telefonica and three Italian investors are dismantling the Telco shareholder pact that has controlled Telecom Italia for seven years via a 22.4 percent stake, making way for new investors in the phone company.

The Telefonica source said the group sold the bonds for 139 million euros ($190 million) for "financial reasons", having initially invested 103 million euros in them.

Analysts said the sale could mean the group's commitment to Telecom Italia is waning in the face of antitrust concerns in Brazil, where Telefonica and Telecom Italia are direct competitors.

"The bond sale, even if it is supported by the strong price increase of the bonds, raises questions about the future role of Telefonica in the shareholding of Telecom Italia," ICBPI analyst Stefano Vulpiani said in a note.

Earlier in June, Telefonica's Italian partners exercised their option to quit Telco, a move that would leave Telefonica as the largest investor in Telecom Italia with a stake of almost 15 percent.

Selling the bonds means that Telefonica will dilute its stake once they are converted into Telecom Italia shares in November 2016. The overall bonds were worth 1.3 billion euros.

Telefonica bought the bonds in November 2013, just a couple of months after increasing its stake in Telco from around 10 percent. That stake increase prompted regulators in Brazil to order Telefonica to downsize its presence in the country.

Exiting its investment in Telecom Italia altogether is one option for Telefonica to comply with Brazilian demands.

By 1436 GMT, Telecom Italia shares were down 2.2 percent at 0.93 euros in Milan, while in Madrid Telefonica was down 0.2 percent, The European telecoms index fell 1 percent.

($1 = 0.7336 Euros) (Reporting by Andres Gonzalez and Danilo Masoni; Editing by Carlos Ruano and Mark Potter)