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WIND JOINT VENTURE WILL TAKE ON TELECOM ITALIA

Wind, the newly named three way joint venture between France Telecom SA, Deutsche Telekom AG, and Italian electricity company Enel SpA (CI No 3,275) has formally announced its plans to take on monopoly operator Telecom Italia SpA in the Italian telecommunications market. The group is planning to take Wind to an initial public offering within three to five years, and are set to invest some $7bn by the year 2007, with the aim of building a national telecommunications network. The three expect Wind to capture up to 20% of the Italian fixed market and 15% of the mobile phone traffic by that time, when revenues should have reached around $6bn. Enel, which owns a 51% stake in Wind, will pay for its share of the capital outlay by paying for the building of a 12,000km optic fiber network around Italy. Around 2,000km are to be completed by year end, and the remainder by 1999. Enel will then lease network capacity back to the Wind venture. Meanwhile, there are still a few hurdles to overcome for Wind. Sprint Corp, the third party in the Global One venture with Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom, still has the option of investing, and Wind still needs to be awarded a mobile phone operating license in Italy. With competition on the Italian market intensifying, it is not clear whether its ambitious targets can be met. Albacom, a joint venture of energy giant ENI SpA, and British Telecommunications Plc, and Infostrada SpA, a joint venture between Ing C Olivetti SpA and Mannesmann AG, are also poised to enter the marketplace.

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CBR Staff Writer

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