Private equity firm Blackstone Group is in talks to buy a minority stake in Italy's No. 2 fixed-line phone operator Wind, two years after it lost out in a bid battle for the company, a person familiar with the situation said on Wednesday.
Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris bought the telecoms unit of Italy's Enel in May 2005 for 12.1 billion euros ($16.45 billion) in one of Europe's largest leveraged buyouts, topping a rival bid from Blackstone.
Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore has reported that Sawiris is mulling the sale of 20 to 30 percent of Wind, with the stake valued between 1.5 billion and 2 billion euros.
The source with knowledge of the talks between Blackstone and Wind would not confirm the stake size or price.
Spokesmen for Sawiris were not immediately available and Blackstone declined to comment.
Sawiris, ranked 278 on Forbes magazine's 2006 rich list with an estimated net worth of $2.2 billion, controls Egyptian mobile phone operator Orascom Telecom.
His investment vehicle Weather Investments Spa owns Wind Telecommunicazioni Spa, which is also Italy's third-largest mobile operator.
New York-based Blackstone is one of the world's largest private equity firms with $88.4 billion under management as of May 1. The firm's shares closed at $23.04 on Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.