Bell Atlantic Increases Ownership in Booming Italian Wireless Market
US-based company boosts international wireless portfolio value
December 16, 1996
Philadelphia, Pa. -- With Italy representing the world's
economy, and estimates of total wireless penetration exceeding 17
percent (or 9.7 million customers) by the year 2000, Bell Atlantic
(NYSE:BEL) will increase its ownership in HREF="/sites/default/files/imported/press-releases/bell-atlantic/1996/omnifact.htm">Omnitel, one of that
country's two cellular providers. Bell Atlantic will acquire an
additional 5.8 percent of Omnitel from Olivetti, making Bell Atlantic
the second largest Omnitel shareholder at 17.4 percent.
Bell Atlantic and Olivetti said the deal will close before the end of
"We're excited about the opportunity to take an even greater
interest in Omnitel, a business with so much growth potential," said
Bell Atlantic International Wireless President and CEO HREF="http://www.ba.com/speeches/profiles/bartlett.html">Tom
Since beginning service in Italy in December 1995, Omnitel has posted
world-record growth, expecting to capture more than 700,000 customers
in its first year of service. The digital cellular operator expects
to turn cash positive in 1998.
Omnitel represents one of Bell Atlantic's four wireless markets
outside America which comprise an international portfolio of 37
million POPs, or potential customers, in Europe and Latin America.
During 1996, Bell Atlantic more than doubled its proportionate
international customers, bringing its total to approximately 250,000
customers. Bell Atlantic's purchase of additional equity in Omnitel
will add 3.3 million POPs to its international wireless portfolio.
"With a strong management team and solid partners, Bell Atlantic has
taken another step in creating value in its wireless international
portfolio," said Bartlett. "We believe that tremendous value
created by investing in markets and operations where we have already
demonstrated success. For instance, Omnitel has built a solid
network, exceeding all coverage requirements, developed a robust
distribution network, as well as a superb customer care process."
"These elements, coupled with an experienced management team, will
yield market leadership."
Bell Atlantic plans to merge with NYNEX early in 1997. After the
merger, the new company's wireless presence will include licensed
properties in Greece, Indonesia, India, and Japan, covering a total of
185 million non-proportional POPs in the US and around the world.
With assistance from Bell Atlantic International Wireless' consulting
organization, Omnitel became the first wireless business in Italy with
24-hour customer care, in-bound telemarketing, bill detail and
multi-line billing, and simplified, consumer-targeted pricing.
Omnitel's network coverage is expected to reach 85 percent of the
country's population by the end of this year.
Bell Atlantic Corporation (NYSE:
BEL) is at the forefront of the new
communications, entertainment and information industry. In the
mid-Atlantic region, the company is the premier provider of local
telecommunications and advanced services. Globally, it is one of the
largest investors in the high-growth wireless communication
marketplace. Bell Atlantic also owns a substantial interest in
Telecom Corporation of New Zealand and is actively developing
high-growth national and international business opportunities in all
phases of the industry.