Telecom Italia S.p.A. is about to sell its 27-percent stake in Cuban state telecom ETECSA, an Italian newspaper reported, without revealing its sources.
Telecom Italia announced in 2008 it wanted to sell its¬†Etecsa participation as part of a plan to shed non-core assets¬†and reduce debt.¬†
Citing “indiscretions,”¬†an article in Il Sole 24 Ore¬†reported that a Telecom Italia source said the company expects a “premium” on its investment.¬†TI reportedly asked $780 million for the¬†Etecsa stake in negotiations with Spain’s Telef√≥nica in 2009. In its latest half-year report, TI valued its ETECSA stake at 367 million euro ($481 million), according to Il Sole.
In October, Telecom Italia CEO Franco Bernabe said that talks with the Cuban government were in an “advanced phase,” according to the newspaper.
Earlier this year, Britain‚Äôs Cable & Wireless¬†Communications plc had expressed interest, attracted by¬†Cuba‚Äôs growth potential in the mobile phone sector. The¬†London-based company is entering the Cuban market via an undersea cable¬†linking Jamaica and Cuba it agreed to build in March.¬†The cable landing, according to company CEO Tony Rice,¬†would position Cable & Wireless as a top contender to take over the 27-percent ETECSA share.
‚ÄúThe starting point is the cable landing, but the greater¬†prize is working with the [Cuban] government to develop its¬†telecoms market,‚ÄĚ Cable & Wireless CEO Tony Rice said in March, according to¬†the Sunday Times.
A Cable & Wireless spokesman later said that reports about an Etecsa¬†stake purchase went ‚Äútoo far,‚ÄĚ according to trade publication¬†Total Telecom.
Cuba is not only the largest Caribbean market, but it is¬†also the most underdeveloped for broadband and wireless¬†communications in the western hemisphere.