UPDATE 2-Argentina regulator blocks sale of Telecom Italia unit
(Adds Telecom Italia statement, shares, details)
BUENOS AIRES/MILAN Oct 16 (Reuters) - Argentina's telecoms regulator has blocked the sale of Telecom Italia's local business to investment firm Fintech, halting a $960 million deal that could help the Italian phone group cut its large debt.
Regulator AFTIC said late on Thursday that Fintech was "not in a position to operate and take control" of Telecom Argentina .
"Fintech has demonstrated neither experience nor expertise," AFTIC said.
Telecom Italia said on Friday that Fintech had indicated it planned to appeal against the decision.
Shares in Telecom Italia shrugged off the news and were up 0.6 percent by 0724 GMT in line with Italy's blue-chip stock index.
"In our view this represents a slight setback in Telecom Italia's efforts to sell assets and raise cash in order to reduce debt," Haitong Research said in a note.
The former Italian telecoms monopoly had 27 billion euros ($30.7 billion) in net debt at mid-year.
Telecom Italia agreed in November 2013 to sell its controlling stake in Telecom Argentina's holding company Sofora to Fintech, the investment vehicle of Mexican financier David Martinez, for $960 million. Continuación...