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February 6, 1989

BT AND MERCURY CONTENDERS FOR MODERNISATION OF ITALIAN TELECOM

By CBR Staff Writer

The lamentable state of the Italian telephone system – one area where even the most chauvinistic would find it difficult to trumpet Il Sorpasso over British Telecommunications Plc and Mercury Communications’ networks – and the fact that it will take some $25,000m to bring it up to the standard expected in a developed company, clearly makes the stakes very high in Italy, but even so, in five or six years, British Telecom will have to start long-term planning for new generation exchanges, and the desperation of the four contenders to get in on the Italian act, and the ever more outrageous offers being made, underline the enormous value locked up in GEC Plessey Telecommunications Plc if either of its co-owners were in a position to release it – and GEC Plc shareholders should be asking ever more insistently whether their company is not allowing access to a near-priceless asset on the cheap by agreeing to sell a 40% stake in GEC Plessey to Siemens AG without putting it up for auction.

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