24 de septiembre de 2014 / 22:19 / en 3 años

UPDATE 1-No approval yet for Telecom Italia's sale of Argentine unit

(Adds context on sale, Friday board meeting)

BUENOS AIRES, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Argentina’s competition watchdog has not yet decided whether to approve Telecom Italia SpA’s $960 million sale of its Argentine unit to investment fund Fintech, a source at the regulatory body said on Wednesday.

“The process is moving normally. But there is no news so far,” the source at the National Commission for the Defense of Competition told Reuters.

Telecom Italia was not reachable for comment.

The heavily indebted Italian phone group agreed to sell its 22.7 percent controlling state in Telecom Argentina almost a year ago. The company said this month the deal could not be put off indefinitely and if Argentina failed to approve it by Thursday, the board would rethink the operation.

Telecom Italia’s board is due to meet on Friday, a day later than previously expected.

The sale of the Telecom Argentina stake is part of a broader 4 billion euro plan by the Italian groups’ Chief Executive Officer Marco Patuano to help cut net debts of more than 27 billion euros and fund investments in faster networks and 4G services.

Telecom Italia has already pushed back completion of the sale twice while waiting approval from Buenos Aires. If the deal falls through, it would leave Telecom Italia with fewer assets with which to deliver its investment plans.

Some Telecom Italia investors led by Italian businessman Marco Fossati have criticized the terms of the deal which was agreed under a previous board controlled by an investor group led by Telefonica, which also operates in Argentina. (Reporting by Juliana Castilla; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by David Gregorio and Lisa Shumaker)

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