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Telecom Italia Commits to Brazilian Unit Amid Push for Deal

Telecom Italia SpA (TIT), responding to a regulator’s request to clarify intentions for its Brazilian business, said it wants to keep the unit and hasn’t received bids for it.

The company isn’t pursuing a sale and hasn’t received unsolicited offers, according to a statement from the Milan-based carrier today. Telecom Italia also responded to the Italian regulator’s questions about the sale of its Argentine unit and a mandatory convertible bond, saying those actions help strengthen its finances.

While Telecom Italia is committing to the Brazil unit, called Tim Participacoes SA (TIMP3), the Italian company’s largest shareholder, Telefonica SA (TEF), favors a sale or breakup of the Rio de Janeiro-based carrier, people with knowledge of the matter have said. Telefonica agreed in September to gradually boost its stake in the holding company that owns 22.4 percent of Telecom Italia and controls its board.

Telecom Italia and Telefonica, which also owns a wireless carrier in Brazil, may study a deal to combine their businesses in the country, Il Messaggero reported Dec. 1, without saying where it got information. A Telefonica spokesman in Madrid declined to comment.

“In Brazil, the Telecom Italia and Telefonica Groups continue to be competitors and parties to a fair contest, in strict compliance with local rules,” Telecom Italia said today.

Telecom Italia fell 1.3 percent to 70.9 cents at 10:13 a.m. in Milan, valuing the company at 12.9 billion euros ($17.5 billion).

Bond Investors

Telecom Italia plans to raise a total of about 4 billion euros through measures including selling phone towers, and creating separate companies for its domestic consumer and business services. Last month, the company sold its Argentine business to Mexican financier David Martinez for $960 million and issued a 1.3 billion-euro mandatory convertible bond.

New York-based BlackRock Inc. was permitted to buy the convertible bonds even though they weren’t meant for U.S. investors, Telecom Italia said in a response to the regulator today. It was accepted because of its “high quality,” Telecom Italia said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniele Lepido in Milan at dlepido1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net

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