* Clessidra "in the race" - source
* Telecom Italia board to meet on Thursday
* Tarak Ben Ammar to announce partner for Italy media
By Danilo Masoni
MILAN, Dec 3 Italian private equity fund
Clessidra has made an offer to buy Italy's third-largest
commercial broadcaster Telecom Italia Media, two
sources said on Monday.
"They are in the race," a financial source told Reuters,
asking not to be identified.
Italy's biggest telecoms group Telecom Italia put
Telecom Italia Media up for sale in May to help reduce its net
debt of more than 30 billion euros ($39.21 billion).
A second source with knowledge of the situation confirmed
that Clessidra had made an offer.
Clessidra declined to comment while Telecom Italia was not
immediately reachable for comment.
Telecom Italia, which owns 77 percent of the Telecom Italia
Media, had set a Monday deadline to submit binding offers.
Other potential bidders were Hutchison Whampoa's
Italian telecoms operator, U.S. TV group Discovery
Communications and advertising firm Cairo
A source familiar with the situation said Cairo could make
an offer "in the coming hours."
It was not immediately clear whether the other two potential
bidders had made an offer.
Separately Tunisian media businessman Tarak Ben Ammar said,
in an invitation to a press conference, he would announce on
Wednesday he had found an international partner, alongside
partner TF1, ready to invest in the media sector in Italy.
The investment will represent the beginning of a series of
strategic buys in Italy, the invitation said, without giving
In the past there was speculation Ben Ammar might be
interested in looking at Telecom Italia Media.
Shares in Telecom Italia Media rose more than 2 percent on
Monday, on expectations that parent Telecom Italia could be
closer to a sale of its unit.
Telecom Italia, which values its 77 percent stake in the
Telecom Italia Media at 176 million euros, wants to sell the
business by the end of the year.
"There is speculative trading on the stock ahead of a
decision," a Milan trader said. "In general, a sale would be a
Recession and rising competition in Italy's TV market have
complicated the sale and could be reflected in the buyers'
This could disappoint Telecom Italia, which is selling off
assets to help reduce its debt burden.
The Italian telecoms company, advised on the sale by
Mediobanca and Citigroup, will hold a board
meeting on Thursday, in which it could examine the offers for
its media arm along with other important strategy issues.
A banker who had looked at the Telecom Italia Media file
told Reuters that if a deal happened to fall through because
bids were too low, the company might shop around for
alternatives including a partnership with a foreign player.