Last week Telecom Italia resumed negotiations with Anatel in pursuit of a solution to the legal impasse which prevents Telecom Italia Mobile from going live with its PCS operation. Anatel has so far refused to budge on its interpretation that TIM can?t operate while its parent is a major shareholder in fixed-line incumbent Brasil Telecom because of the tough cross-ownership restrictions written into Brazil?s telecommunications law. For Jarbas Valente, Anatel?s head of private services, if Telecom Italia won?t relinquish its holding in BrT, TIM can?t operate until BrT meets its regulatory targets as an incumbent. By law, BrT has until next year to do that. ?Those are the only ways to comply with the General Telecommunications Act and Anatel has no intention of helping anyone to find a way around the law,? he says. Anatel met with executives of Telecom Italia last week, he confirms, but nothing new was discussed. The talks served merely to reaffirm the conditions for TIM to be allowed to go live. Mr Valente says for now he sees no need to talk to Opportunity, the other main shareholder in BrT and the obstacle to investment in early target fulfillment, because the Italians have so far shown no interest in quitting BrT. "They?ve asked Anatel to explain how that could legally be done but never presented a formal proposal,? he says.
Asked to respond to TIM?s argument that it doesn?t violate the cross-ownership rules (citing Resolution 101 and the General Licensing Plan), Anatel says this is unacceptable since when TIM registered for the PCS auction it clearly stated that its parent company is a controlling shareholder in BrT. Telecom Italia now argues that its holding in the fixed-line incumbent should be computed as follows: it owns 37.29% of voting stock in Solpart, which in turn holds 53.45% of voting stock in Brasil Telecom Participações, the holding company for BrT with 97.71%. Hence, Telecom Italia claims, it indirectly owns only 19.47% of BrT?s voting stock, less than the 20% threshold that defines control in Anatel?s rules.