The Italian government is hoping a group of local investors will beat AT&T and América Móvil to win a stake in Telecom Italia holding company Olimpia. While the government’s official line is that the ‘decisions of the [Telecom Italia] board are sacred’, privately many politicians are expressing concern that ownership of the country’s largest telephone networks could be transferred to foreign firms. Communications Minister Paolo Gentiloni has already voiced his own ‘very great concern’ about the proposed EUR4.5 billion deal, under which AT&T of the US and América Móvil of Mexico each hope to acquire one-third of Olimpia, a company which holds 18% of Telecom Italia. The stake is being sold by Italian industrial group Pirelli, which holds 80% of Olimpia in total. A group of Italian banks, including Intesa Sanpaolo and Mediobanca, have already expressed an interest in the Olimpia shares and the government is thought to be keen to see a renewed bid following the EUR2.92 per share offer from the American telcos. The Italian government has previously scuppered a deal which would have seen a Spanish firm take over Italy’s highways agency Autostrade.
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