BT is to bid for Italy's third mobile licence with an alliance called Picienne Italy.
Italy represents the fourth largest European telecomms market after Germany, France and the UK, and is forecast to be worth #20.1 billion by 2001. The country's mobile penetration is 18 per cent - the highest in Europe outside the Nordic region - and is expected to reach 45 per cent over the next seven years.
BT owns 26 per cent of Picienne Italia which also includes Mediaset, the country's commerical television network; Telenor, a telecomms operator in Norway; Italian banking group BNL; insurance firm INA; and natural gas provider, Italgas.
The Italian government is expected to reward licences in the spring. BT already runs a fixed wire joint venture in Italy called Albacom. The group was given a boost in July when the country's energy group took a 35 per cent stake.
Albacom includes banking group, Banca Nazionale de Lavoro, and communications firm, Mediaset Spa. BT aims to win up to 15 per cent of the Italian telephone market by 2007.
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