On September 23 Spanish telecom giant Telefónica struck a €800m deal to raise its share of Telco, the holding which controls Telecom Italia, Italy’s biggest telecommunications group, from 46 per cent to 66 per cent reports Il Messaggero.

Telecom Italia, the former state operator privatised in 1997, had been saddled with heavy debt for years and was struggling to find fresh capital, but the sale has nonetheless been interpreted as another ominous sign of Italy’s economic decline and loss of sovereignty.

To counter these claims, Telefónica has accepted to limit its voting rights to 46.2%, leaving a theoretical combined majority to Italian shareholders.