Telecom Italia confirms sale of Telecom Italia Media
From Branislav Pekic in Rome

Telecom Italia has officially confirmed the sale of Telecom Italia Media, its media and broadcasting unit in which it owns a 77 per cent stake.

The Board of Directors has decided to begin the process for the disposal of the activities in the media sector, in view of the refocusing of the Group on the core activities, as outlined in the 2012-2014 Business Plan, in order to reach the debt reduction targets.

At a separate meeting, the Board of Telecom Italia Media announced a corpoarte restructuring program, which will see the separation of the TV assets and their transfer to an “ad hoc” company”. In practice, both national broadcaster La7 and the DTT multiplexes will be sold separately on the market.

Telecom Italia Media’s 1Q 2012 show a revenue growth to €57.5 million (€52.3 million in 1Q 2011) and a negative EBITDA for €5.9 million (€1.9 million in the 1Q 2011). The net result was a negative €15.7 million (-€9.2 million in the 1Q 2011) and the net debt jumped from €138.7 million to €206.9 million.

Telecom Italia Media’s assets include national broadcasters La7 and MTV Italia, and DTT multiplex operator TIMB. Recently, the company announced a dismissal process to Viacom of the activities related to Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and music channels hosted by the Sky Italia platform.

According to industry rumours, potential buyers for Italian national broadcaster La7 include publishing group Espresso, advertising company Cairo Communication, French-Tunisian businessman Tarak Ben Ammar, the Emir of Qatar (owner of Al Jazeera), Germany’s Bertelsmann group and Italian businessman Diego Della Valle.