Negotiations between the Fininvest SpA media group, controlled by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and Cable & Wireless Plc’s continental joint venture with Vebacom AG, aimed at creating a joint venture to operate in the Italian telecommunications market are at an advanced stage, hears Corriere Della Sera. The venture, provisionally dubbed Italy Telecom Trust, would be majority-controlled by Cable & Wireless, and would be open to other operators, especially those that formed the Unitel consortium with Fininvest in its unsuccessful attempt to win the first non-state controlled cellular franchise in Italy last year – they include BellSouth Corp, Vodafone Group Plc and Millicom Inc. Italy Telecom Trust will take over the Italian operations of Cable & Wireless and Fininvest Servizi, the subsidiary that manages Fininvest’s telephone operations. Fininvest Servizi employs 200 people. The joint venture’s initial objective will be to make a bid for the licence to become Italy’s third cellular telephone operator. The call for bids is expected to be issued in the spring or summer of next year. The third operator will use Personal Communications Network technology, as opposed to the existing operators, Telecom Italia Mobile and the Omnitel-Pronto Italia consortium, which both use Groupe Speciale Mobile technology. Other companies thought likely to make a bid for the licence are the American Baby Bells – particularly US West Inc, which may link with Italians.