Telecom Italia reportedly plans to spin-off its data centre facilities into a separate unit before holding an IPO in 2020, in the company’s latest move to reduce its mounting debt pile.

Sources told Bloomberg the Italian operator will create a separate unit for its 23 data centres in the first half of 2020, while using financial investors to improve its growth prospects. It will then hold a listing, which it expects could generate around €1 billion. Telecom Italia will keep overall control of the unit.

The move is in line with an industry trend of finding new investors for data centre and infrastructure holdings to generate cash. Bloomberg pointed out major operators Verizon, Telstra, AT&T, KPN and Telefonica have all spun-off their data centres to financial investors in recent years.

In July, it was rumoured Telecom Italia would look to raise funds from its data centre assets, as well as a possible sale of a stake in mobile tower unit Inwit.

Debt load
Telecom Italia continues to be plagued with issues. The company’s debt stands at €29 billion and there are ongoing boardroom tussles for ownership between top shareholder Vivendi and activist shareholder Elliott Management.

Late last month, the company’s chairman Fulvio Conti stood down, the latest casualty in the bitter shareholder spat.

As well as the data centre plan, CEO Luigi Gubitosi is also seeking a merger of its fixed line unit with rival Open Fiber to generate additional funds.