Vodafone Italia reportedly reached a preliminary deal to buy a stake in Milan-based fibre operator Metroweb from asset management firm F2i.

According to various media outlets, Vodafone and F2i have signed a letter of intent to negotiate a deal.

As it’s a non-disclosure agreement, however, details are scant. There is no news of financials or stake size.

The Italian government has considered using the broadband company as the vehicle for implementing its ambitious broadband strategy, but talks with Vodafone, Wind and Telecom Italia have stalled.

Operator rivalry is partly to blame for lack of progress, as too is a complex ownership structure.

Metroweb is 87 per cent controlled by holding company Metroweb Italia, around 54 per cent of which is owned by F2i, with state-backed holding company Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) owning 44 per cent and Italian broadband operator Fastweb holding an 11 per cent stake.