POOR RESULTS MAY PUSH TISCALI TO SELL ITS SOUTH AFRICAN BUSINESS

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

One of South Africa’s larger ISPs Tiscali South Africa might be sold by its Italian parent after the European business released a poor set of financiual results this week and said it would reconsider its options for "non-core operations". But the decision to sell would be based on the suitability of the offer, Diego Massidda, the local Tiscali chief executive, said last week.

Bloomberg news agency said Tiscali International, Europe’s third-biggest internet service provider, planned to start selling assets in four countries by the end of the month as it focused on its five main European markets, which contribute 80 percent of the group’s revenue, to boost profit.

The company’s biggest markets include Benelux, France, Italy, the UK and Germany. It plans to pull out of South Africa, Switzerland, Sweden and Norway. Tiscali said there were difficulties in countries like South Africa, with highly regulated telecoms environments.

Massidda said the local operation was one of two worldwide operations that showed a profit in 2003. The company makes about R300 million in revenues in South Africa and grew profit 70 percent in the past year. "It’s still a viable option at this point in time to keep the South Africa business," he said. Massidda said the parent company had started looking at a potential sale and a decision would be made in a relatively short period. But Tiscali International said it was considering a number of options, including sales or partnerships for non-core countries.

Business Report