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Sawiris Mulls Bid to Buy Back Wind Italy from VimpelCom

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Egypt's Naguib Sawiris has said that it might be interested in buying back the Italian mobile network operator he sold in 2011 to Russia's VimpelCom.

He bought the Italian mobile network, Wind in 2005 from the local electricity company, and folded it into Weather Investments -- the company that was later sold to VimpelCom.

"When we find a good opportunity we will come back for sure," Sawiris, 58, told Bloomberg News in a phone interview. "I am very optimistic on Italy."

Wind however saw its debt ratings downgraded late last year by Fitch who were concerned that the company will not be able to maintain stable EBITDA and free cash flow generation in the face of mobile termination rate cuts, intensifying competitive pressures and bleak macroeconomic prospects in Italy.

Sawiris has been mulling a return to the Italian market for nearly a year, although an offer to invest USD2.6 billion in Telecom Italia was rejected by that company five months ago. TI is now said to be in talks with Hutchison Whampoa over a possible merger of their mobile networks.

Sawiris said that he was skeptical about a merger between the two companies because of the different cultures between a young start-up and the older former state-monopoly operator.

On the web: Bloomberg News

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Tags: naguib sawiris  vimpelcom  Italy