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Telecom Italia is buying the outstanding shares in its mobile division for $21bn. It currently owns 56 per cent of Telecom Italia Mobile, which it spun off as a separate company in 1995. Shares in both companies will be suspended while the bid is decided.

Mobile telecoms have enjoyed better growth than fixed line business in recent years. By regaining full control Telecom Italia will have to extend its debt but should be able to increase dividend payments. The telco will have to borrow between €8bn and €12bn, according to sources quoted by the Financial Times.

One fund manager quoted by Bloomberg said it was a positive move and something the telco should have done some time ago.

Shareholders in TIM include some of Italy's best known industrial names, such as the Pirelli and the Benetton families. ®

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