1241 GMT - Telefonica is among the most mentioned companies across news items over the past 12 hours, according to Factiva data, after the Spanish government ordered the state-holding company SEPI to acquire up to 10% of the telecom company's share capital. In October, SEPI said it was exploring the possibility of buying a stake in Telefonica, following Saudi Telecom Co.'s move a month before to acquire a 9.9% stake in it. Although STC said that it didn't intend to seek control of the company, the move drew attention from Spanish government officials. Spain must ensure its decision-making capacity in companies such as Telefonica, which guards sensitive data, Second Vice-President of the Government of Spain and Minister for Work and Social Economy, Yolanda Diaz, said on X, formerly Twitter, right after STC's move. SEPI said that its participation would provide Telefonica with greater shareholding stability as well as contribute to safeguarding its strategic capabilities. However, the operation ordered by the government, which is led by center-left Socialist Pedro Sanchez, has sparked political discussions. The deputy secretary of economy of Spanish center-right Popular Party, or PP, said that the move wasn't justified and that it was an act of populism that threatens to break the market. Dow Jones & Co. owns Factiva. (andrea.figueras@wsj.com)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

12-20-23 0800ET