TIM top investor Vivendi keen to discuss network plan with govt

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of French media giant Vivendi is seen in Paris, France, January 31, 2022. REUTERS/Violeta Santos Moura

MILAN (Reuters) – Telecom Italia (BIT:)’s (TIM) top investor Vivendi (OTC:) is keen to start talks with Italy’s new right-wing government on a new plan to create a national broadband company, people close to the French media conglomerate said on Sunday.

Debt-laden Telecom Italia has been embroiled for months in negotiations over the sale of its prized landline grid to state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP).

The potential sale was part of a plan sponsored by the previous government to combine TIM’s fixed network assets with those of smaller broadband operator Open Fiber in order to create a national network champion under CDP control.

However, regulatory and valuations issues have thwarted efforts so far and the project to create a single network company is now being reassessed by the new government, which was sworn in last month.

On Saturday, cabinet undersecretary Alessio Butti told Sky broadcaster he considered creating a single broadband company a “priority”, adding he would start soon talks with all stakeholders, including CDP, over a new version of the project.

Butti had previously called on CDP to pursue the single network project taking over TIM, under a plan dubbed “Minerva”.

Under the plan, TIM would retain the network while hiving off its services operations and its Brazil-listed unit to cut its debt pile.

People close to the French media group said on Sunday that Vivendi appreciated Butti’s openness to dialogue and reiterated the Paris-listed company’s willingness to start discussions to find a quick solution.

In her inaugural speech to parliament, new Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni vowed to ensure national strategic networks to be state-owned while enabling telecoms companies to compete on services.

Treasury-owned CDP, which controls Open Fiber, is TIM’s second largest investor with a 10% stake. Vivendi holds a 24%stake in TIM.

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