German, Italian Telecoms Near Merger
LONDON, UK, April 20 -- Deutsche Telekom AG and Telecom Italia SpA have proposed a merger that would create a telecommunications giant worth more than $200 billion. If the proposed merger survives problems with Deutsche Telekom's state ownership and calls by Italians for equal rights in management, the result would be the largest merger in history.
The merger, which began as Telecom Italia's defense against a hostile takeover attempt by Olivetti, has been in negotiation for some time and is near agreement, according to company sources. The two firms' chief executives, Franco Bernabe and Ron Sommer, were expected to outline the merger agreement at a news conference Tuesday in London. However, the conference was postponed following separate board meetings on Monday, reportedly due to the complexity of the merger and a number of unresolved issues, which include the structure of the merged company.
The effect of the proposed merger on Deutsche Telekom's alliance with France Télécom is as yet unclear. Reports that Deutsche Telekom is also in takeover negotiations with Sprint Corp. in the US have been dismissed by the German telecom as just speculation.
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