Telefonica announces sale of Czech unit for 2.47 bn euros

Heavily indebted Spanish telecoms firm Telefonica said Tuesday it had agreed to sell a 65.9-percent stake in its Czech unit to Czech financial group PPF for 2.47 billion euros ($3.3 billion).

Telefonica will retain a minority 4.9 percent share in Telefonica O2 Czech Republic, which is has 9.3 million customers in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, it said in a statement.

Telefonica O2 Czech Republic earned net profits of 262 million euros ($354 million) on almost two billion euros of sales last year.

News of Telefonica's plan to sell its Czech unit first surfaced two months ago.

Telefonica aims to reduce its debt to less than 47 billion euros by the end of the year. It stood at 49.8 billion euros as of the end of June.

The former state monopoly has sold a number of assets to reduce its debt load, including its Irish division O2, which it sold to Hutchison Whampoa in June for 850 million euros.