Vincent Boland: Europe’s most unloved sector beginning to attract advances

The competition-heavy, investment-light approach to the once heavyweight sector has led it to near-extinction. Is the interest of US private equity firm KKR likely to bring one such casualty, Telecom Italia, back from the brink?

Telecom Italia has again become the target of takeover interest, this time from KKR, a giant US private equity firm. Picture: Reuters

In the late 1990s, as Europe’s first wave of corporate mergers and acquisitions reached its peak, a company named Olivetti made a €55 billion takeover bid for Telecom Italia, which at the time was one of the continent’s biggest phone companies. Olivetti started out as a maker of typewriters and was struggling in the new world of computers, but Roberto Colaninno, its chief executive, had outsized ambitions for his company.

Telecom Italia was privatised in ...