Group Telefónica would offload more than 50pc of its workforce with Atento sale

MADRID | Telefónica will attempt for the second time since last May the sale of its call centre services Atento. According to El Confidencial, the company has hired Morgan Stanley and HSBC to organise the operation, which last year failed to get enough demand in a partial IPO. The Spanish multinational now aims to do this through an investor auction open to corporations in the industrial sector and private equity firms.

Financial sources linked Telefónica’s decision to its cash needs to fund the company’s dividend policy. The operator, chaired by César Alierta, preferred not to comment on the transaction but said that Atento was a non-strategic asset and that was part of a larger package of potential divestitures.

Telefónica has already sold Endemol, the producer of television programmes, which went to Goldman Sachs and Mediaset for €2.63 billion after previously delisting it. It also sold 60% of TPI, better known as the Spanish Yellow Pages, to the British company Yell for €1.838 billion.

This time, Telefónica plans to skip the stock offering, which tried in May without success. Telefónica put then on the market about 50% of Atento, valued at up to €1,5 billion. However, after two weeks of prospecting demand among institutional investors only, the offer was discontinued due to lack of interest.

In 2011, total revenues in Atento reached €1.8 billion, an increase of 8.4%. Geographically, Brazil accounted for 54% of the revenues, in line with the previous year. Operating income fell by 30.2% to €101 million because of personnel restructuring costs: Atento has a workforce of 156,700 employees, more than half of all the Telefónica Group’s.

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