Telecom Italia (TI) has issued a statement via a press release on its web site categorically denying recent press reports suggesting it is looking to sell its most profitable unit – Brazilian carrier TIM Participacoes (TIM Brasil). ‘With reference to today’s [Wednesday’s] press rumours, Telecom Italia states that it is not in any formal or informal process for the sale of its stake in TIM Participacoes,’ the firm said. The Italian company’s release is in response to a Reuters report – citing a person familiar with the situation – that it is actively considering divesting its 67% holding in TIM Brasil, in order to reduce debt, in a deal that could raise at least EUR9 billion (USD12 billion) for the cash-strapped operator. Reuters suggested that the sale of the Brazilian carrier was one option being looked at by TI’s new chief executive Marco Patuano. The incoming CEO was appointed in the wake of Franco Bernabe’s resignation, with the latter said to be opposed to a plan for Telefonica to up its stake in Telco – the group behind TI – to 66%. With rumours still rife over TI’s intentions, the group is expected to present a new business plan at a board meeting on 7 November. However, speaking at a conference of Brazilian competitive telecom operators (TelComp) in Sao Paulo last month, TIM Brasil’s head of regulatory affairs, Mario Girasole, reportedly said the Brazilian carrier was not an item to be ‘sliced up’ among different owners.
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