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Telefonica mulls offer for Telecom Italia shareholders: source

A Telecom Italia antenna booster is seen in northern Rome November 12, 2012. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
A Telecom Italia antenna booster is seen in northern Rome November 12, 2012. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

MADRID (Reuters) - Telefonica is studying an offer to help fellow investors in Telecom Italia sell their stakes in the Italian firm in a way that would not result in more debt for the Spanish telecoms company, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters on Wednesday.

"Telefonica does not want to leave empty-handed, but the challenge is finding a solution that offers liquidity to Telco stakeholders without increasing Telefonica's debt," the source said, without elaborating on what specific format the solution might take.

Telefonica has an indirect 10.5 percent stake in Telecom Italia through its 46 percent share of holding company Telco, formed with Italian investors Mediobanca, Intesa Sanpaolo and Generali.

Those investors are now prepared to sell their shares when they get their first opportunity to leave the shareholder pact on September 28, according to sources.

(Reporting by Robert Hetz; Writing by Clare Kane; Editing by Elisabeth O'Leary)

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