Telecom Italia, Europe's fifth-biggest telecoms operator, denied on Monday an Italian newspaper report that said it was considering a bid for Telekom Austria.

Speculation on the future strategy of the debt-laden Italian company has risen ahead of the expected renewal this week of the investor pact controlling the company.

The Milano Finanza newspaper on Saturday said a bid for the Austrian company could make industrial sense and generate value without weighing down debt.

Telecom Italia denied what it called a fictional report. It had already denied a similar report earlier this month.

Telecom Italia's shares were down 1.1 percent at 1.14 euros in early afternoon trade.

Focused on a cautious debt- and cost-cutting strategy to turn itself around, Telecom Italia has shown little interest in pursuing acquisitions and has been retrenching abroad to focus on its core Italian and Brazilian operations.

(Editing by Greg Mahlich)