Week in Review

November 16, 2012 4:48 pm

Sawiris turns to European telecoms

Naguib Sawiris, the Egyptian telecoms magnate, stepped up his activity in the European telecoms market this week by offering to back a capital raising at Telecom Italia and expressing interest in SFR, the French operator owned by Vivendi.

Mr Sawiris has promised to underwrite a new equity raising at Telecom Italia to reduce debt and fund an acquisition of GVT, the Brazilian telecoms group also owned by Vivendi. Mr Sawiris would also want a degree of management control to influence the strategy. Telecom Italia said it would consider the offer, which was not given a financial value.

Marco Patuano, chief operating officer at Telecom Italia, told a Barcelona conference that consideration of the offer as one alternative would depend on whether it decided to bid for GVT, adding that otherwise the group could fund its strategy to reduce debt from free cash flow. He described GVT as a “good asset” but added that no decision had been made.

Mr Sawiris also said this week that he was considering a bid for SFR, although he added that the high price of the French telecoms group, which could be as much as €14bn, would require a large number of investors. Both SFR and GVT are owned by Vivendi, which is undertaking a review of its business that could lead to the sale of its telecoms assets.

Mr Sawiris previously built a large telecoms operation based around Wind, the Italian group, which was subsequently sold to VimpelCom.

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