Bell Atlantic Ups Stake in Europe's Second
Largest Wireless Provider to 23.1%
Third increase in two years bolsters position in
June 3, 1999
PHILADELPHIA -- Bell Atlantic [NYSE: BEL] today announced it
exercised rights to increase its ownership in Omnitel Pronto Italia,
Europe's second largest wireless carrier and one of the world's fastest
growing wireless businesses, to 23.1 percent.
An original partner in Omnitel, Bell Atlantic began with an 11.66 percent
stake in 1995 before increasing its equity position twice, in '97 and '98, to
19.7 percent. Today's acquisition boosts Bell Atlantic's ownership by
another 3.4 percent.
This third buy-up in two years solidly positions Bell Atlantic as Omnitel's
second largest shareholder.
"This most recent ownership increase demonstrates just how excited
Bell Atlantic continues to be about the future of Omnitel and the Italian
telecoms market," said President and CEO of Bell Atlantic
International Wireless Tom Bartlett. "I would be hard-pressed to
find another wireless business that generates the kind of pure value that
"In its first three years of operation Omnitel increased its customer
base to over 7 million, won international awards for outstanding customer
care, built a network that covers nearly all of Italy's geography, and
significantly exceeded all of its financial objectives including revenue
generation, operating cash flow, and net income. All in a market that will
boast more wireless than wireline phones by the end of the year."
Mannesmann: 53.7%* Bell Atlantic: 23.1% AirTouch: 17.8% Other: 5.4%
*includes shares to be transferred to Mannesmann from the upcoming sale of Olivetti's
interest in their Oliman partnership.
Recently, Bell Atlantic also received rights to another 2 percent ownership
in Omnitel Pronto Italia. Those rights may be exercised by January 2001
and would extend Bell Atlantic's ownership in Omnitel to more than a
quarter of the business.
The Bell Atlantic Global Wireless Group is one of the world's largest
wireless communications companies, with US wireless operations in 24
states and international investments in Latin America, Europe and the
Worldwide wireless holdings total 187 million proportionate POPs (people
in markets served), with more than half in high-growth international
markets like Italy, Mexico, and Greece. The worldwide proportionate
wireless customer base totaled more than 9.1 million as of March 31,
1999. International proportionate subscribers comprise nearly 25% of Bell
Atlantic's global wireless customer base.