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Tiscali denies France sell-off reports

'Remains core asset'

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Tiscali denies it is prepping the sale of Liberty Surf, its French operation, to France Telecom.

According to Italian press reports, the European ISP has already hired a bank to handle the sale. But a Tiscali spokesman told Reuters: "We deny that we are in talks with France Telecom about a sale of our French unit which remains a core asset for us. No mandate has been given to a bank."

The speculation comes as Tiscali is looking to raise cash to pay off a €250m (£173m) loan due next July. Last week Italian website AGI reported that Tiscali chairman, Vittorio Serafino, was confident that there would be news by the end of the year concerning the bond repayment, adding that more than half of the loan would be paid by the disposal of company assets.

Indeed, the company has already taken this path over the last year as it retreated from non-core countries. During Q3 it raised €81.3m (£56m) by flogging its businesses in Austria, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and South Africa. The company has 7.7m active subscribers in Europe.

No one at Tiscali was available for comment at the time of writing. ®

Related stories

Tiscali eyes profit in 2005
Tiscali chops off Swiss arm
Lycos Europe buys Tiscali Sweden
Tiscali to squeeze overheads as losses swell
Tiscali to flog four country ops

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