SAO PAULO Jan 25 Egyptian billionaire Naguib
Sawiris plans to bid for Brazilian wireless carrier TIM
Participações SA, according to a newspaper interview
published on Saturday, adding pressure to a delicate standoff
between two European telecom giants.
Sawiris told Folha de S.Paulo that Spain's Telefonica SA
has pushed TIM Brasil's parent company, Telecom Italia
SpA, to break up the Brazilian unit and sell it to
local players including Telefonica Brasil.
"That is an idea defended by Telefonica on the board of
Telecom Italia and I am vehemently against it, because it will
devalue not just Telecom Italia shares, but also the assets of
all the parts," said Sawiris, a minority shareholder of the
TIM Brasil, Telecom Italia, and Telefonica did not
immediately respond to requests for comment.
Sawiris, who runs Orascom Telecom Media and Technology
, has tried to break into the Brazilian market before
and was looking to take a larger share of Telecom Italia before
Telefonica tightened its grip.
The Spanish company's move in September to raise its stake
in Telco, the holding company that controls Telecom Italia, was
the first step toward taking the reins of its Italian peer. But
its plans have run into resistance from Brazilian regulators.
Telefonica Brasil and TIM Participações together control
more than half of Brazil's wireless market.
Antitrust watchdog Cade said in December that Telefonica had
to find a partner for its Brazil unit or sell its indirect TIM
Brasil stake, giving 18 months to resolve the issue, according
to three sources.
Telefonica denied reports this month it was preparing a
joint offer for TIM Participações along with local rivals
America Movil and Grupo Oi.
Telecom Italia said last week any offer for TIM Brasil would
be evaluated by independent directors, adding no plans or talks
were underway to sell TIM Brasil nor had it received any offer.
The first attempt by Sawiris to enter Brazil came in 2007,
he told Folha, when he made an offer to take over Brasil
Telecom, a company eventually acquired by Grupo Oi.
Sawiris discussed his new plans with the communications
minister late last year during a visit to Brazil, he said.
"I told the minister it would be an awful idea for the
Brazilian government to allow the breakup of TIM," Sawiris told
Folha. "I am one possible buyer of TIM, if it is sold."