UPDATE 2-AT&T, America Movil, Sawiris circle Telecom Italia -source
* America Movil denies talks about any share purchase
* Telecom Italia Chairman sees 'lots of time to discuss'
* Shares rise as much as 9.6 percent
MILAN, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris, U.S. telecoms giant AT&T and Mexico's America Movil have contacted the core investors who want to sell their shares in Telecom Italia, a source close to the situation said.
The three have not expressed a formal interest in buying the stakes, said the source, who is familiar with the thinking of Telecom Italia shareholders.
Investors' expectations of a shake-up in the telecoms sector were ratcheted up this week when Verizon Communications agreed to buy British operator Vodafone out of its U.S. wireless business for $130 billion, and Telecom Italia is seen as an early target.
The board of Telecom Italia is meeting on Sept. 19, and its chairman Franco Bernabe is seeking a new investor ahead of the meeting.
America Movil denied it was in talks with Telecom Italia shareholders about any share purchase, while AT&T declined to comment. Sawiris was not immediately available for comment.
Bernabe, who has been at the helm of the debt-laden Italian telco since 2008, was giving nothing away.
"Whatever is decided, if there is anything to be decided, will be discussed at the appropriate time and namely at the board meeting of Sept. 19 of Telecom Italia and the following ones. So there will be lots of time to discuss," he told reporters at the sidelines of a telecoms conference in Brussels.
Shareholders have so far shot down two merger plans that Bernabe brought to the board. The first was a proposal last year Sawiris to take a stake through a 3-billion-euro capital hike, while the second involved a merger with Hutchison Whampoa's Italian mobile unit.
But the Verizon deal is putting Telecom Italia, vulnerable due to its low profitability and net debt of more than 28 billion euros, back in the frame.
Shares in Telecom Italia soared as much as 9.6 percent on Thursday. It halved its gains after the denial from America Movil but was still up 4.7 percent in the afternoon.
Telecom Italia is 22.4 percent-owned by Telco, which is in turn controlled by Italian banks Mediobanca and Intesa Sanpaolo , domestic insurer Generali and Spanish telecoms operator Telefonica.
Mediobanca has openly said it is preparing for a sale after writing down its indirect investment in Italy's biggest telecoms group to around current market price.
Shareholders have until Sept. 28 to exercise the option to leave the Telco pact early.
"The acceleration in the sector's consolidation and Telecom Italia's and its holding company's difficulties support the idea of extraordinary operations," ICBPI brokerage said in a note, adding that the likely exit of Mediobanca and Generali from the Telco pact by Sept. 28 was boosting speculation on the stock.
Italian daily la Repubblica said on Thursday Bernabe planned to propose to the board a reserved capital increase to bring in a new investor.