The telecommunications operator seeks to focus on its strategic businesses that add industrial value.

The telecommunications operator seeks to focus on its strategic businesses that add industrial value.

The telecommunications operator seeks to focus on its strategic businesses that add industrial value.

Telefónica logo, in a file image.

Telephone its participation in the Prisa group is not one of its priorities. In fact, the operator is open to selling the 9.4% that it still holds in the communication group if a good offer arrives.

Market sources confirm to this newspaper that the company has already made some approaches with potential interested parties in this package in recent months, but without reaching definitive agreements.

The telecommunications operator wants to focus on its strategic businesses and focused on digital markets. In this sense, their stake in Prisa is a Rare avis that has nothing to do with his vocation maintain investments that add industrial value.

Nevertheless, selling the Prisa package is not easy. First of all, the current share price is a brake on trying to get any profitability. At the close of the market on Friday, the group’s stock market valuation was 360 million euros, which values ​​the Telefónica package at just under 35 million.

A share that has sunk 67% so far this year. Telephone they do not want to sell at any price and although they are aware of the reality of the market, they expect an offer somewhat higher than what is currently being negotiated.

Rush Fight

However, the biggest conditioning factor for his departure from Rush It is strategic and political. The pressures of Moncloa and the rest of the group’s shareholders such as Santander (which has 4.1%) keep the operator in a complex and unsought situation.

The last example of this situation was experienced before the summer. Amber Capital (owner of 29% of Prisa) made a strong commitment to force the departure of President Javier Monzón, although in the end he did not succeed, mainly because of the front they formed Santander and Telefonica.

In recent months, a front has been formed to protect Prisa’s “Spanishness” from the onslaught of investment funds. Without going any further, last week the fund Melqart rose to 4.1% stake in the group, at the same level as Banco Santander.

However, these are not battles that Telefónica now wants to wage. César Alierta was always characterized by making this type of bets with strategic investments without profitability, but with influence from the hand of political movements. But the current president José María Álvarez Pallete has a different and technical profile that seeks industrial investments that add value to the company.

The recent history of Prisa with Telefónica dates back to May 2002 with the sale of the pay television operator Vía Digital to Sogecable, the audiovisual subsidiary of the publisher of The country. A history of misunderstandings that continued in May 2014 with the purchase by Telefónica of Sogecable.

History in a hurry

A decade later and without managing to reduce its large debt generated by the purchase of Vía Digital, Telefónica rescued Prisa by buying its pay television operator for 725 million eurosof which it held 22% of the capital.

We knew of the last great movement in February 2016, when the operator made public that it was executing the Prisa derivatives shares that represented 8.7% of the capital. With this, the company went from having 4.98% to 13%, a percentage of participation that they maintained until Prisa’s capital increase in 2018.

On that occasion, the operator diluted its participation in Prisa from 13.05% to 9.44% by not attending the capital increase carried out by the media group. Specifically, the telecommunications operator retained 52.7 million Prisa shares.

Despite this reduction, the operator remains the second largest investor after Amber Capital. That’s why its sale – and future buyer – is key to understanding the future balance of power in Rush.

If Telefónica sells to a fund, Amber will have it easier in the case of trying a new assault on control of the companybut if, on the contrary, an institutional investor does it, Santander’s idea of ​​maintaining a “Spanish” core will be reinforced.

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