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Italy’s Wind signs virtual mobile deal with France’s Auchan UPDATE

Italy’s Wind signs virtual mobile deal with France’s Auchan UPDATE

(updating on possible Atlantia unit deal)

MILAN (Thomson Financial) – Italy’s Wind Telecommunicazioni SpA has signed an agreement with France’s Auchan under which the retail chain becomes a virtual mobile operator, said Wind CEO Luigi Gubitosi.

Details on the agreement will be finalised in the next few days, while Auchan will begin offering mobile phone services in the first half of 2008.

‘Auchan is a valued partner, a big enterprise with a similar philosophy to Wind,’ said Gubitosi, speaking in Rome.

Auchan operates 45 hypermarkets in Italy, the companies said in a statement.

In the last year, Italy’s mobile operators have signed a series of virtual mobile deals, though regulatory officials say most of the deals are weighted in favour of the mobile operator.

Wind is owned by Weather Investments, which also owns 50 pct plus one share of Orascom. Weather is controlled by Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawaris.

In further comments, Radiocor news agency cited industrial sources saying Wind is close to a virtual mobile operator deal with Atlantia SpA’s motorway unit Autostrade per l’Italia.

Autostrade plans to offer mobile services to customers already using its automatic Telepass system for toll payments.

nigel.tutt@thomson.com

nt/jlc/nt/ejp

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