Following news that Vodafone Italia has reached a preliminary deal to buy a stake in Milan-based fibre operator Metroweb, Telecom Italia’s board of directors are to meet today (March 26) to assess their own plans of acquiring the company, Reuters reported.
The Italian government has considered using the broadband company, held by asset management firm F2i, as the vehicle for implementing its ambitious broadband strategy. However, talks with Vodafone, Wind and Telecom Italia, who is interested in a 51 per cent stake, have stalled in the past.
In December, CEO Marco Patuano had said: “We have offered two options: a total purchase (of F2i’s stake) or a partial one.”
Rivals Telecom Italia and Vodafone are in competition to be number one in the mobile market and Metroweb could help them meet growing consumer demand for bandwidth-consuming services.
Companies with a stake in Metroweb could also have more of a say in how the government strategy pans out but so far operator rivalry has hindered lack of progress, along with 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.
Telecom Italia has not made any comment on the matter yet.
Last week, Patuano, on announcing full-year 2014 net profits of €1.35 billion – an enormous swing upwards from the €674 million loss posted the previous year – said the firm’s strategy of network investment and debt reduction is “proving to be a winning one”.