SBC said to be in talks to sell European assets

Tuesday, September 19th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SAN ANTONIO – U.S. phone giant SBC Communications Inc. is reportedly negotiating the sale of most of its European assets to Telia of Sweden for more than $6 billion.

SBC is in advanced talks with Telia to sell its 42 percent stake in Tele Danmark, Denmark's leading phone company, for Telia stock and cash, USA Today reported Monday, citing unidentified sources.

SBC would also sell its 15 percent share of Cegetel SA of France and its 40 percent stake in Diax Holding AG of Switzerland, the newspaper reported.

This summer, SBC sold its nearly 30 percent stake in MATAV, a phone carrier in Hungary, for $2.2 billion, and its share in Norwegian wireless provider NetCom to Telia.

San Antonio-based SBC, the second-largest U.S. local phone company, acquired several European interests when it bought Ameritech last year.

SBC also recently added a 25 percent stake in Brazilian wireless service provider Atel.

Officials at SBC and Telia declined to comment on the report.

"We continuously review our investment portfolio, but this is speculation and we don't comment on speculation," said Saralee Boteler, an SBC spokeswoman.

From its Texas roots, SBC has acquired several U.S. phone companies including Ameritech in the Midwest, Southern New England Telecommunications, Pacific Bell, Nevada Bell and Cellular One.

It operates in 13 states and provides long-distance service in Texas under its Southwestern Bell name.

The company is also making an aggressive push into data communications, announcing it would spend $6 billion to bring high-speed digital subscriber line Internet service to about 80 percent of its U.S. phone customers within three years.

SBC shares were up 50 cents in Monday trading to close at $44.75 on the New York Stock Exchange.