A move by Iliad Group to acquire Vodafone Group’s Italian business reportedly totalled more than €11 billion, a sign the French company’s billionaire owner Xavier Niel is willing to pay over the odds to increase his foothold in Italy.

Sources told Financial Times (FT) the offer gives Vodafone Italia a valuation of roughly seven-times its EBITDA.

Multinational bank Barclays Capital estimated the enterprise value of Vodafone’s Italian business at €6.9 billion.

Iliad confirmed it made an offer to buy the business earlier this week, following widespread speculation of talks between the pair.

If FT’s sources are correct, Niel’s offer of more than €11 billion is a sure sign of his seriousness and ambition to expand in Italy, having only entered the market in 2018.

GSMA Intelligence figures placed Iliad Italia as the fourth-largest player in the country by mobile connections, with 8.4 million at end-2021.

This compares with 18 million mobile connections held by Vodafone Italia, Telecom Italia’s 20 million and Wind Tre’s 21 million.

FT added Iliad made arrangements with a large European bank to help fund the deal, in addition to backing from a currently-unnamed investment fund.

Iliad’s offer comes at a tumultuous time for the Italian market, with Telecom Italia also the subject of takeover advances from investment fund KKR.