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Swisscom makes Fastweb pledge

Company will not sell to Berlusconi

Swisscom, the prospective new owner of Fastweb, addressed speculation about its plans for Italy’s top IPTV provider, saying it will keep the current Fastweb management team in place if the sale is approved and it has no intention of selling a stake in the company to Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset.

Speculation has been mounting that Mediaset, facing a downturn in the Italian TV advertising market, will make an investment in Italy’s small but growing broadband TV sector. Mediaset was said to be mulling a counteroffer to top the E47 ($63.30) a share Swisscom offered for Fastweb last month, but it dropped out of the bidding in the final days.

Seeking to put some distance between the still swirling talk of a possible Fastweb-Mediaset tie-up, Swisscom CEO Carsten Schloter told Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore his company has no intention of selling a stake in Fastweb to Mediaset. Schloter also said he will retain Fastweb CEO Stefano Parisi to run the company if Swisscom succeeds in gaining shareholder approval of the deal next month.

Stakes are getting high in the European IPTV market, the fastest growing pay-TV platform. U.K.-based media analysts Screen Digest predicts Europe’s IPTV market will double in size this year to surpass the E1 billion mark ($1.34 billion).

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