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Argentine Regulator Blocks Sale of Telecom Argentina

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Argentinean regulators have blocked the sale of a controlling stake in Telecom Argentina to the Mexican investor, David Martinez claiming that his Fintech Group lacks the necessary qualifications to operate a telecoms network.

Fintech had planned to buy a 68 percent stake in Telecom Argentina which was indirectly held by Telecom Italia. The Italian firm was selling in order to pay down its debt.

"Fintech Telecom LLC was incorporated in Delaware less than a month before Telecom Italia accepted the bid," the regulator, Aftic said in its statement. "It lacks expertise and qualifications to run the company."

The move was a surprise as Martinez is said to be close to the government and already owns a cable network in the country.

Telecom Italia has been trying to sell the stake since November 2013, but has faced several regulatory blocks. Under the terms of the sale agreement, if it is not completed by May 2017, then Telecom Italia can look for an alternative buyer.

Telecom Italia currently has net debt of EU27 billion.

The sale would raise around USD960 million if completed. A 17 percent stake has already been sold, the regulator was needed to approve the transfer of the remaining 51 percent.

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Tags: telecom argentina  telecom italia  Italy