Olivetti received a boost yesterday when France Telecom agreed to invest L165 billion ($98 million) for a 49 per cent stake in Infostrada, Olivetti?s telecoms venture with Bell Atlantic.
France Telecom said the deal will turn Infostrada into a competitive alternative carrier for voice telephony services for business and residential users in Italy when the market is fully liberalised in 1998. All partners will invest a total L2 trillion over the next five years to develop its infrastructure based on fibre optic cable for long-distance networks and optical technology for local acess.
As well as France Telecom?s 49 per cent of Infostrada, Olivetti will control 67 per cent of the company and Bell Atlantic will own 33 per cent. The deal enables Infostrada to distribute products and services in Italy for Global One, the joint venture between France Telecom, Deutsche Telekom and Sprint.
Infostrada has operated in Italy since 1995 and boasts 900 business customers for voice, data, Internet, telephone cards, and telecomms outsourcing.
Robert Colaninno, chief executive of Olivetti said: ?This initiative marks a decisive step in Olivetti?s strategy to become a full-service telecomms company.?
Michel Bon, chairman of France Telecom said: ?With the entry in a very important market, France Telecom now reaches one of its major ambitions in Europe, allowing us to enhance our international presence.?
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