Olivetti agrees sale of personal computers

Olivetti, the Italian information technology group, yesterday moved to tackle the problems that have been besetting it with a L250bn-L300bn (pounds 96m- pounds 115m) deal to sell its troubled personal computer division.

The loss-making business is going to Piedmont International, a company established for the purpose by Edward Gottesman, a US lawyer based in London whose other interests include Raleigh bicycles and the Fila sports shoe group. The final sale price will be agreed before the end of February, with Olivetti retaining a 10 per cent stake in the new company.

Plans to sell the PC operation were announced last October as part of a programme to raise around L800bn to cut debt and restructure the company. With L450bn raised from the recent sale of an 8 per cent stake in Omnitel, one of Italy's mobile telephone groups, the latest disposal means that target has almost been reached.

Olivetti's shares, suspended in Milan yesterday ahead of the announcement, have been rallying from new lows.

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