MILAN, April 13 Egyptian billionaire Naguib
Sawiris is ready to invest $1 to $2 billion in Telecom Italia
if its biggest shareholder Telefonica pulled
out from the Italian phone group, according to newspaper Il Sole
Sawiris, who unsuccessfully attempted to buy a stake in
Telecom Italia in 2012, criticised the presence of the Spanish
group because of conflicting interests in Brazil and said
Telecom Italia needed cash for investments.
Telefonica, which together with three Italian financial
institutions controls 22.4 percent of Telecom Italia through
holding Telco, is a direct rival of Telecom Italia in Brazil.
Sources close to Telefonica have said the group would like
to break up Telecom Italia's Brazilian unit TIM Brasil
and share its assets with other telecom companies.
"In the past I made my calculations and put forward a
proposal. I think I would reiterate that: I would be ready to
invest 1 to 2 billion dollars," Sawiris said when asked how much
would he spend on Telecom Italia if Telefonica withdrew from it.
The Brazilian competition watchdog has given Telefonica
until mid-2015 to downsize its presence in the south American
country, sources close to the matter have said.
If Telefonica fails with its plans over Brazil it might have
to consider selling its 15 percent stake in Telecom Italia to
comply with Brazilian authority's demands.
"I am waiting until Telefonica makes a decision. I will be
patient for a few moths more," Sawiris said.
The Italian partners of Telefonica have signalled they could
break up Telco in the coming months and eventually sell their
stakes in Telecom Italia, weakening the Spanish group's grip
over the Italian group.
Telecom Italia, which is due to appoint a new board next
week, is carrying out a 4-billion-euro plan to cut debt and fund
investments as it seeks to reverse years of sluggish growth.
(Reporting by Danilo Masoni; editing by Keiron Henderson)