UPDATE 1-Telecom Italia to sell part of Argentina unit, awaits regulator for remainder
* Initial deal was $960 mln sale of Argentine unit to Fintech
* Telecom Italia expects regulator approval within 2.5 years
* Phone group to sell 17 pct stake for $216 mln by end Oct
* Remainder of 51 pct once regulators give green light (Adds details, background)
MILAN, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Telecom Italia said on Saturday it would sell only part of its majority stake in Telecom Argentina and the rest once the regulator approved its full sale to New York-based fund Fintech, owned by Mexican billionaire David Martinez.
The Italian phone group had agreed to sell its controlling stake in Telecom Argentina holding company Sofora to Fintech for $960 million almost one year ago, but the Argentina telecoms regulator SECOM has been slow to approve the deal.
In a statement to the Milan stock exchange, Telecom Italia said it expected SECOM's approval within two and a half years, and that in the meantime it would sell an initial 17 percent in Sofora to Fintech by end-October for $216 million.
The phone company plans to then sell its remaining 51 percent controlling stake in Sofora to Fintech once regulators give the green light, cashing in on the remaining $960 million.