Microsoft and Cisco Systems Ease Into Italy's Telco Arena
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Microsoft announced last week that it had purchased a significant share of Blixer, Italy's leading provider of telephone services over the Internet. In only seven months of operation, Blixer, which was established by venture capitalist Elserino Piol and two holding companies controlled by former Olivetti CEO Carlo De Benedetti, has accumulated more than 1,500 corporate clients.
In a separate announcement, Cisco Systems said they have reached an alliance agreement with Telecom Italia that will give them a 19 percent stake in Italtel, a subsidiary of the former state-run monopoly.
Fifty-one percent of Italtel, a primary manufacturer of telecom switches, is owned by the private investment firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice. Another 11 percent is controlled by Advent International and Brera Capital Partners. The agreement between Telecom and Cisco will provide each of the latter companies a 19 percent stake in Italtel.