Telefonica seeks Terra Lycos buyup

Decision may cost company nearly $2 billion

MADRID — Attempting to bang some sense into its labyrinthine business, giant Spanish telco Telefonica is bidding to buy up independent shareholders’ shares in its Internet operator Terra Lycos.

The operation could cost Telefonica, which owns 36.5% of Terra Lycos, some $2 billion. It is offering to pay a 15% premium of $6.24 a share, valuing Terra Lycos at some $3.5 billion.

Encouraged by its Dutch TV giant Endemol, Telefonica has long-held plans to stream TV content to phone clients — dreams that have come to little in commercial practice.

Buying up Terra Lycos would at least allow Telefonica to delist it, halting its plunging share value, and integrate its Internet business, ending a bizarre situation in which Terra Lycos competes against Telefonica’s own more successful ADSL service.

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