Firms clamour for a piece of Italia’s Seat sale

The complexities surrounding the merger of Italy’s Olivetti and Telecom Italia are continuing to multiply as law firms race to pick up the last remaining roles.

Telecom Italia is in the throes of auctioning off its Seat Pagine Gialle Yellow Pages business in which it holds a 56 per cent stake, with four separate private equity consortia competing for the E5bn (£3.43bn) company.

It has emerged that Bonelli Erede Pappalardo is acting alongside Simpson Thacher & Bartlett for a consortium including KKR, Blackstone and Texas Pacific Group, with Clifford Chance representing the lenders.

It is also understood that Giliberti e Associati is advising BC Partners, Permira, CVC and Investitori Associati on its bid.

Investitori Associati was involved in the original acquisition of Seat in the late 1990s, when banking and finance advice was provided by UK firm Dickson Minto, which is thought to have retained a role in this latest deal.

It is not yet clear which firm is advising Hicks Muse Tate & Furst and Apax, which famously bought UK Yellow Pages business Yell in 2001.

Market sources claim that Latham & Watkins has won a role in advising a consortium made up of Thomas H Lee, Carlyle and Providence Equity Partners.

The sale is just a minute part of a series of transactions involving Telecom Italia, Olivetti and the ultimate parent Pirelli.

With Seat, Telecom Italia is demerging the group that, as well as the directories business, contains a television and internet division, which will be housed in a company called TI Media.

Overall, Pirelli & C will merge with Pirelli SpA, which are being represented by Bonelli Erede Pappalardo.

Pirelli, along with a clutch of investors, including the Benetton family, bought 28 per cent of Olivetti in 2001 through a holding company called Olimpia.

In order to shorten the complex company structure, Olivetti, advised by Gianni Origoni Grippo & Partners, will merge with Telecom Italia, in which Olivetti has a 55 per stake. Chiomenti Studio Legale is acting for Telecom Italia on this deal, with Bonelli Erede Pappalardo representing the lenders JPMorgan.

In a further twist, Gianni Origoni Grippo is acting for Telecom Italia on the Seat transaction, where due diligence has already begun.