May 7, 2020 / 4:25 PM / a month ago

TIM CEO sees hard period and opportunities for telecoms due to COVID-19

MILAN, May 7 (Reuters) - Telecom Italia (TIM) and the telecoms sector as a whole will face a couple of hard quarters due to the COVID-19 emergency, but many “great opportunities” lie ahead, the chief executive of Italy’s biggest phone group said on Thursday.

“For an integrated group like ours, which has different technologies available, but more in general for the sector, there will be a couple of difficult quarters in order to overcome the coronavirus crisis,” Luigi Gubitosi said at an online conference organised by CNBC.

He added, however, that he remained optimistic about the future and said there would be opportunities later as the outbreak had highlighted the importance of technology and the need to fully implement it.

“New technologies are important... there will be good demand, everyone will want secure, solid connectivity,” Gubitosi said.

Telecoms are seen by analysts as one of the sectors most resilient to the coronavirus crisis given the sharp rise in internet traffic after millions of people were forced to stay home, businesses embraced smart-working and schools launched online learning.

Gubitosi said that COVID-19 and the lockdown measures imposed to curb the spread of the virus would lead to a fall in revenues in the industry as shops selling phones were forced to shut and companies, whose operations were halted, postponed investments and delayed payments to phone carriers.

Shares in TIM briefly extended losses, nearing a session low after Gubitosi’s remarks before recovering to end down 2.17% at 0.34 euros per share.

Reporting by Elvira Pollina, writing by Giulia Segreti; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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