| LONDON, April 14
LONDON, April 14 Egyptian billionaire Naguib
Sawiris wants to invest up to $2 billion in Telecom Italia
if its biggest shareholder Telefonica pulls
out of the Italian group, a source familiar with the matter said
Sawiris made an unsuccessful attempt to buy a stake in
Telecom Italia in 2012 and said the company needed cash for
The source confirmed a report in Sunday's Il Sole 24 Ore
newspaper that Sawiris is interested in making a fresh bid but
said that an imminent approach is unlikely.
"I don't expect things to move in the short term," the
source said. "Telecom Italia still looks too expensive for
Sawiris has also been critical of the involvement of Spain's
Telefonica in Telecom Italia because of conflicting interests in
Telefonica, together with three Italian financial
institutions, controls 22.4 percent of Telecom Italia through
holding company Telco and is a direct rival of
Telecom Italia in Brazil through its ownership of market-leading
mobile operator Vivo.
Sources close to Telefonica have said the group would like
to break up Telecom Italia's Brazilian business TIM Brasil
, while the Brazilian competition watchdog has given
Telefonica until mid-2015 to reduce its presence in the country,
other sources have said.
If Telefonica fails to engineer a break-up of TIM Brasil it
might have to consider selling its 15 percent stake in Telecom
Italia to comply with the Brazilian authority's demands.
Telefonica' Italian partners have signalled that they could
break up Telco in the coming months and eventually sell their
stakes in Telecom Italia, weakening the Spanish group's grip on
the Italian company.
Telecom Italia, which is due to appoint a new board next
week, is carrying out a 4 billion euro ($5.56 billion) plan to
cut debt and fund investments as it seeks to reverse years of
($1 = 0.7201 Euros)
(Editing by David Goodman)