Italy govt officials to discuss plans for Telecom Italia on Tuesday

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ROME : Government officials will discuss plans for Telecom Italia (TIM) later on Tuesday, Italy’s economy minister said, responding to a question about the former phone monopoly’s landline grid.

“We will hold a meeting on TIM within hours,” Economy Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti said during a press briefing in Rome on Tuesday morning.

Giorgetti was asked whether the new right-wing government backed Italian state lender CDP’s plans to submit an offer for TIM’s landline grid by the end of the month.

The minister reiterated that the government wants to retain control of TIM’s network which is deemed of strategic interest, adding such a goal can be reached in “several ways”.

CDP’s multi-billion euro preliminary offer for TIM’s landline grid is part of a plan to combine it with its broadband unit Open Fiber. The sale of TIM’s wholesale fixed network assets is also a key plank of a strategy set out by CEO Pietro Labriola to revamp the group and cut its 25 billion euro ($25.7 billion) debt pile.

The long awaited offer is expected to value TIM’s landline grid and submarine cable unit Sparkle at between 15 and 18 billion euros including some 12 billion euros in debt, sources have previously said. TIM has been in talks with state lender CDP since May over a potential deal under a preliminary pact also signed by Macquarie and KKR, which own minority stakes in Open Fiber and TIM’s last-mile grid respectively. Under such a scheme, Treasury-owned CDP would control the newly-created wholesale only broadband company.

Giorgetti said the government aims to “find a solution in the interests of TIM”, and its workers, while maintaining public control of the network.

Negotiations have been complicated by divergences on valuation, with TIM’s top investor, French media conglomerate Vivendi demanding 31 billion euros to back a sale.

Government officials within Giorgia Meloni’s administration have been weighing also other options to reach the goal, including a state-sponsored takeover of TIM.

($1 = 0.9732 euros)

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