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Where is the new Telecom Italia going?


Where is the new Telecom Italia going?

The future of Telecom Italia seems to have embarked on a new path in recent days: it will be the Italian-Spanish consortium formed by Mediobanca, Intesa Sanpaolo, Generali, Sintonia (Benetton), Telefonica (the only TLC partner) and reunited in the new company Telco, to acquire Olimpia, the holding company that controls the telephone company. But conflicting news spread in financial circles on which Consob intends to clarify.

Telefonica has in fact sent CNMV (Consob’s Spanish counterpart) a note in which it declares, based on the agreement, that it has the right to “oppose the sale of shares” and the “right to veto certain decisions that may modify the ‘shareholding, dividend and divestment policy ”. An aspect that does not appear in the press releases issued in Italy and that would make the Spanish company a partner that is anything but a minority, and for this reason (in addition to some differences declared on the shares in Telco) Consob has decided to ask the shareholders for clarification Italians of Telco, “to ensure equality and completeness of information for the market”. Clarifications that will have to be disclosed before the reopening of the equity markets.

Telco therefore has a majority shareholding in Italy, but – observes the Financial Times – Telefonica is the largest shareholder and “there is no doubt about the final move of an operator who has built a formidable reputation over the last ten years. on the principle of full control and integration of acquisitions “. Control, concludes the financial newspaper, “is certainly Telefonica’s ultimate goal”.

In the joint press release issued by the Italian shareholders (which does not report anything in relation to the existence of veto rights by Telefonica) it is stated that, “in the context of the subsequent capital increase Intesa Sanpaolo may, with the reasonable approval of the other shareholders Telco, indicate new primary Italian financial investors, who will be able to join the Telco team by subscribing new shares in cash, with individual stakes between 2% and 5%. Over time, the shareholders will be able to make further contributions of Telecom shares within the overall limit of 30% of the ordinary capital of Telecom itself, also taking into account any Telecom shares owned directly by the shareholders of Telco ”. There are already those who read in these opportunities the hypothesis of a Mediaset entry.

The road taken by Telecom’s new course, as mentioned above, is new and its path is waiting to be discovered. But the Communications Minister Paolo Gentiloni is still optimistic: “This is the end of a delicate phase of uncertainty and I hope that there are the conditions to face the two challenges of managing the network and the certainty of investments, on which the future depends. of a company so strategic for the country and for consumers “.

Following the operation, the reactions of the other players in the Italian TLC market, ie providers, ISPs and consumers, could not be missing. In a statement from the Movimento Difesa del Cittadino, president Antonio Longo states that “foreign ownership / management (in this case Spanish?) Does not offend us, considering that we already have a large part of telephony, banks, insurance, food or large-scale distribution in the hands of foreign financiers and managers, with results that are, after all, no worse than Italian properties / management “.

“We expect significant news – explains MDC – from the future Telecom: abandonment of aggressive marketing, competitiveness based on the quality of services and assistance, cost transparency, research and innovation in particular in broadband and high added value services, commitment in social telephony, enhancement of relations with consumer associations and in particular of out-of-court procedures for litigation through conciliation. We are sure that if Telecom makes choices of this kind it will go back to being what it was until the 1990s, a great company at the service of the country, innovation and technological research that creates development and employment with good customer satisfaction ” .

AIIP also disseminated its position on the matter: “The definition of Telecom Italia’s new shareholding structure and the entry of new capital will be a positive event for the Italian industry if accompanied by adequate action by the supervisory authorities and a relaunch of investments “.

The association therefore returns to advocate, for the Italian market, the solution of the corporate unbundling between the network and TLC services: “Since Telecom Italia and Telefonica are de facto monopolists in the broadband access market in Italy and Spain, in order to to avoid phenomena of transfer pricing from the Italian to the Spanish market, with an illegal subsidy of the latter to the detriment of Italian consumers, it is necessary to check every weapon that can be used by Telefonica / Telecom for this purpose. It is therefore essential to adopt measures to give effect to the existing obligation to orientate the cost of communication services for Telecom Italia, and first of all the structural separation, conferring the entire Telecom Italia network into a specific company. . It is therefore necessary to speed up the definition of the rules for the unbundling of the network, to relaunch investments and promote greater competition in the market. AIIP expresses satisfaction with the will expressed by the Government to increase the powers of the Authority for Guarantees in Communications, which has already announced the launch of a public consultation to start the spin-off “.

AIIP highlights that the British model (a functional separation based on different business units headed by BT) is now outdated “by facts and technology”, and that Ofcom itself (the British regulator) is preparing to review the current structure functional separation. “Today no one is able to say which will be the most requested services made possible by the new generation networks, and which will be the companies that will successfully develop them – considers the association – But for sure, to give Italian companies the opportunity to to compete in international scenarios, there must be a rigid separation between the Network and services. This is the only way to avoid unnecessary duplication of investments and infrastructures, freeing up precious capital to invest in the development of innovative and technological services “.

Dario Bonacina