Spain’s Telefonica said it was confident that Europe would get through the current economic downturn, and it was holding onto its assets and maintaining investment in its network and services this year in readiness for an eventual recovery.
Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete, Chairman and Chief Executive of Telefonica Europe, said that despite the tough economic backdrop, the group was not looking to dispose of any of its opertions in Europe in order to cut its debt.
“We are not sellers,” he said in an interview after the company launched its ‘Think Big’ programme to support young people and back technology start-ups in London.
“I have been hearing a lot of noise in Ireland: we are not sellers full stop.” Analysts have speculated that Telefonica could sell one or more of the companies it owns in five European markets outside Spain to help it reduce a 57 billion euros ($74.8 billion) debt mountain.
It has operations, in Britain, Ireland, the Czech Republic, Germany and Slovakia, trading as O2.
Alvarez-Pallete, who is responsible for European operations outside Spain, also said on Wednesday that the company would not cut investment in the next generation LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology and fibre networks that were needed to cope with the explosion in data traffic.
“The message we are giving to all of our teams is that there is light at the end of tunnel,” he said.
“We are very committed to Europe, so we are not restraining capex in Europe, we are investing very heavily because we are betting for the future.” Telefonica has not guided on capex in different regions this year, but Alvarez-Pallete said it would not be cut in Europe.