Microsoft and Cisco Systems Ease Into Italy’s Telco Arena

[Milan, ITALY] In two separate negotiations, Internet giants Cisco
and Microsoft each eased a foot into the doorway
of Italy’s growing New Economy.

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.

According to official reports, Cisco’s aim in the alliance is to enhance and
increase the offering of data, voice, and video communications throughout
Italy and Europe utilizing technology and platforms of Italtel and Telecom

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