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Friday’s deal between Mannesmann AG and Ing C Olivetti SpA, whereby Mannesmann will become Olivetti’s telecommunications partner via a new company that will hold Olivetti’s interests in cellular operator Omnitel-Pronto, and its fixed line venture Infostrada (CI No 3,241), seems to have left France Telecom out in the cold. France Telecom was previously supposed to have been negotiating to take a 49% stake in Infostrada, which in turn seemed to put off current shareholder Bell Atlantic Corp, who Olivetti said was pulling out of the deal (CI No 3,238), although Bell subsequently denied it. France Telecom seemed to be the last to know however, that as a result of the Mannesmann deal, it was out of the picture. It said this was ‘not in line’ with an agreement it reached with Olivetti back in April. Some analysts seem to view Olivetti’s rescue package, with the Mannesmann deal and extra funding through a rights issue (CI No 3,241), with some skepticism, since this is not the first time the Italian company has secured itself more cash, and promised a return to profitability, only to be back in the same position the following year. There is no further word on the possible Wang Laboratories Inc acquisition of Olsy, Olivetti’s systems and services business (CI No 3,237), but yesterday Olivetti North America Inc announced it has changed its name to Olsy North America Inc, and adopted a new branding that is consistent with its parent company Olsy SpA, which presumably would make things neater for a forthcoming sale.

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CBR Staff Writer

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