UPDATE 3-Telecom Italia ready to explore tie-up with Brazil's Oi
* Telecom Italia CEO says "mandatory" to explore deal with Oi
* Brazil remains strategic, but sale of local unit possible
* 9-month core profit down 7.7 pct at 6.59 billion euros
* Sees concrete signs of recovery in recession hit Italian market (Recasts with comments on Brazil consolidation)
By Danilo Masoni
MILAN, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Telecom Italia must explore the possibility of buying or merging with Brazilian telecoms operator Oi, CEO Marco Patuano said on Friday, as the company tries to strengthen the position of its local subsidiary.
Patuano, who is selling assets to fund investment and cut net debt of $33 billion, lost out to Telefonica in a bidding war for Brazilian broadband company GVT this summer, leaving its 67 percent-owned TIM Participacoes in a weaker position than its rivals as fixed and mobile services consolidate.
Sources in October said rivals led by Oi were poised to present an offer for TIM Brasil in a complex break-up deal that would need regulatory approval.
"I think that it is mandatory to explore the possibility of such a big strategic opportunity," Patuano told an analyst conference call when asked about whether the Italian group could be interested in a purchase or a merger with Oi. Continuación...