Telco Auna shopping its Quiero TV stake

Skandia: 'There are no talks'

MADRID — In an early indication of European telcos’ waning interest in the media, Spain’s second-largest telephone operator, Auna, is looking for buyers of its controlling 49% stake in Spanish digital terrestrial television operator Quiero TV.

Auna teams Telecom Italia (27%) and Spanish electricity groups Endesa (28%) and Union Fenosa (17%), with the remaining shares held by Spanish banks.

Auna claimed late Monday that it “has had conversations with Skandia and other companies interested in the telecommunications sector,” implicitly to sell off part or all of its Quiero stake.

Swedish insurance and media group Skandia already had rebuffed Spanish press suggestions of negotiations with Auna. “There are no talks,” Per Bragee, chairman of the board of Skandia Media Investment, told Daily Variety earlier Monday. “The Quiero stake would be too large a financial proposition for us,” he added.

But Auna’s intention of drumming up interest in offloading its stake seems clear.

According to press reports in Spain, Endesa wishes to concentrate on its core energy business, while Telecom Italia prefers companies yielding quicker returns than Quiero, which aims to reach the breakeven point in 2004.

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