Telecom Italia (TI) is preparing to receive offers for its French internet business Telecom Italia France (Alice) from 25 March 2008, reports Les Echos without citing sources. A number of alternative operators including Iliad (Free), YPSO/Numericable, Bouygues Telecom and neuf Cegetel have already expressed an interest in acquiring the unit which was put up for sale in January this year. Using neuf Cegetel’s recent EUR425 million (USD627 million) acquisition of Club Internet France as a baseline, it is estimated the TI-owned unit could be worth as much as EUR650 million (USD958 million). Alice counted approximately 882,000 subscribers by 30 September 2007, compared with around 600,000 for Club Internet. Despite enjoying a larger market share, the unit continues to make sizeable losses, frustrating TI’s goal of having it break even at the gross operating profit level in 2008. TI is understood to have appointed Credit Agricole’s investment bank Calyon to coordinate the sale process.
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