Sources close to BellSouth Corporation (NYSE:BLS) estimate the company will hold out on plans to sell its holdings in European communication firms in the near future. This estimate follows the company¿s restructuring plans announced in late November.
One of the European holdings BellSouth planned to sell is Israeli cellular operator Cellcom, in which it has a 34.75% stake.
In April BellSouth CFO Ronald M. Dykes announced the company might sell its holdings in Europe, and, according to sources in the company, focus on its business in the U.S. and South America.
This decision is the result of the difficulties the European cellular market has experienced after cellular frequency bids in Germany, Britain and Europe spiked, forcing cellular operators in Europe to increase investments, leading the industry to near collapse.
Since then, the company has not negotiated to sell its subsidiaries. Rumors of negotiations between BellSouth and the Safra family, who has a 34.75% stake in Cellcom, were denied by the Safras representative Shlomo Piotrkowsky, now Cellcom CEO and chairman. The Safras and BellSouth are partners in cellular communication projects in Brazil and in other Latin American countries.
BellSouth revamped its management in the end of November, making Keith Cowan, its chief planning and development officer, in charge of the company¿s activity in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and answerable to BellSouth chairman and CEO Duane Ackerman. Such an appointment indicates the company is not planning to sell its European companies. "Keith's involvement and grasp of our activity in Europe will help us maximize the value of our investments," said the Ackerman announcement.
In November BellSouth thwarted negotiations between Cellcom and Eurocom on establishing a joint local communications enterprise. The move embittered many at Cellcom, who felt the move had been an attempt to pressure other Cellcom shareholders to buy BellSouth's share in the company.