December 17, 2008 / 1:53 PM / 11 years ago

Telecom Italia counters Bolivia on case suspension

MILAN, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Telecom Italia (TLIT.MI) said the arbitration case it filed against Bolivia over the nationalisation of its former subsidiary Entel was proceeding as normal, after Bolivia said it had been suspended.

“The report about the suspension of the arbitration process is completely groundless,” said Francesco Saverio, the head of ETI which owns 50 percent of Entel, according to a spokeswoman for the company, which is Italy’s biggest phone operator.

“The correct version is that (the case) is proceeding normally, within the rules (of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes or ICSID) without any suspension or interruption,” Saverio said.

Bolivia’s nationalisations minister, Hector Arce, told state-run television from The Hague on Tuesday that the case had been put on hold while the country’s complaints regarding ICSID’s jurisdiction were resolved [ID:nN16401318].

Entel is the largest telecommunications company in Bolivia with 80 percent of the long-distance market and 70 percent of mobile services.

Bolivia gave a 50 percent stake to Telecom Italia in the mid-1990s in exchange for pledges of $610 million in investments. The government claims the company has invested much less, an accusation the company denies.

Reporting by Stefano Rebaudo, writing by Jo Winterbottom; Editing by Rupert Winchester

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