Blu drops out of Italian 3G auction

Blu SpA has withdrawn from Italy’s auction for licenses to operate third-generation (3G) mobile telecommunications networks, the company announced on Monday.

Blu’s shareholders could not reach agreement over whether to continue bidding, and withdrew in the eleventh round of bidding, according to a statement from British Telecommunications PLC, which owns 20 per cent of Blu.

Blu passed in the last auction round on Friday, using one of the three passes each bidder is allowed, but did not return to the auction when it restarted Monday at 9.30 a.m., according to the Web site of the Ministry of Communications.

The Ministry has informed the ministerial committee overseeing the auctions of the situation, and is awaiting further instructions, it said.

With five licenses up for grabs, the remaining five contestants did not increase their bids during the eleventh round. Omnitel Pronto Italia SpA bid 4.74 trillion lire (US$2.06 billion), Ipse 2000 SpA bid 4.74 trillion lire, Wind Telecomunicazioni SpA and Andala 3G SpA both bid 4.7 trillion lire and Telecom Italia Mobile SpA (TIM) bid 4.68 trillion lire.

The winning bids at this stage total 23.55 trillion lire, around $10.2 billion. The auction of four licenses to operate third generation mobile networks in the U.K., in April, raised around 22.5 billion pounds, or $32.7 billion at today’s exchange rates.

More information can be found at the Ministry of Communications’ auction Web site,

Blu, based in Rome, can be reached at TIM can be contacted in Rome at Omnitel can be contacted in Milan at Wind can be contacted at Andala can be found on the Web at