Telefonica Launches Data, Mobile Units

Telefónica SA, the telecommunication holding company that owns Spain's largest carrier, yesterday announced that it is to restructure its global holdings in data and mobile communications along functional, rather than national, lines.

Two new global businesses, Telefónica Móviles and Telefónica DataCorp, will regroup the company's holdings in Latin America, North Africa, Spain and the rest of Europe, according to a statement.

Telefónica Móviles would be the world's sixth-largest mobile communications operator, with almost 14 million customers worldwide, the company said. Under the direction of executive chairman Luis Martín de Bustamante, the former chief executive officer of Telefónica de España (Telefónica's Spanish subsidiary), Telefónica Móviles would aim to acquire licenses to operate UMTS networks in Europe. UMTS is the European standard for third generation mobile services, which are expected to deliver multimedia services to mobile terminals at up to 2M bits per second.

By bringing together its data interests in Europe and Latin America, the company said it would be creating the world's second largest specialized data/IP (Internet protocol) company in revenue terms.

To effect the changes in structure, Telefónica's board of directors has announced plans to exchange shares in its existing holdings in Argentina, Brazil and Peru for shares in the new companies. Telefónica's shareholders will vote on the plans on Feb. 4.

Telefónica, in Madrid, can be reached via the Web at http://www.telefonica.com/.

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