(Adds comments from Intesa, source)
MILAN May 23 Italian insurer Generali
is looking to leave the investment grouping through which it
jointly controls Italy's biggest phone group Telecom Italia
as early as June, its chairman said on Friday.
Generali formed the Telco group in 2007 with Spanish telecom
group Telefonica and Italian banks Intesa Sanpaolo
and Mediobanca in order to agree on
candidates for the board of Telecom Italia.
Telco is the biggest investor in Telecom Italia with a 22.4
percent holding. Telefonica has a stake of 66 percent in Telco
and Generali has 19.32, while Intesa and Mediobanca hold 7.34
Under the terms of the Telco agreement, which ends in
February 2015, investors that want to leave the pact must notify
the others during set time windows. The first opportunity to do
so is in June.
"I think we will use (that opportunity)," Generali Chairman
Gabriele Galateri di Genola said on Friday, when asked whether
the company would exit Telco in June.
Quitting Telco would free a member from obligations
regarding their Telecom Italia stakes, allowing them to sell
their shares on the market or to another investor. The process
of unwinding a member's interests from Telco could take up to
Separately on Friday, Intesa Chief Executive Carlo Messina
declined to comment on the timing of his bank's exit from
Telecom Italia, saying the issue was "price sensitive", but
confirmed plans to sell its stake in the company by 2017.
Mediobanca has also signalled several times it plans to sell
its stake. Telefonica has the option to buy the stakes of its
Telco partners but such a move is unlikely to happen until the
group has complied with antitrust demands to downsize its
presence in Brazil. Telefonica and Telecom Italia are direct
competitors in the Latin American country.
The Italian shareholders could also, in theory, sell to a
Telefonica rival - such as Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris, who
has tied his possible investment in Telecom Italia to an exit of
the Spanish group.
However, a source familiar with the situation said on
Friday: "There is no will among Telco investors to go against
Telefonica indirectly owns almost 15 percent of Telecom
(Reporting by Andrea Mandala, Claudia Cristoferi and Danilo
Masoni; Editing by Pravin Char)