Swisscom-owned Fastweb emerged as a potential suitor for Vodafone’s business in Italy, with Bloomberg claiming it was one of a number assessing a move involving the operator.

Fastweb provides fixed, mobile and wholesale access services to the Italian market. The news website claims it is looking at a potential tie-up with the Vodafone division, which is among several at the group with an uncertain future.

Having already struck a deal to merge its UK business with 3’s local unit and sell-up in Spain, regulators in both markets allowing, the company’s operation in Italy is the latest to potentially be on the block.

During its recent fiscal H1 2024 financial update call Vodafone Group CEO Margherita Della Valle said the company was “continuing to explore a range of options in Italy” having previously highlighted it among those which would “benefit from portfolio actions”.

On the call, held in mid-November, the executive added although it had a “very strong company” in Italy outperforming established rivals in service revenue growth and had a strong B2B play it remained a very challenging market.

“None of the players in Italy deliver returns in excess of cost of capital,” she added. “Prices are below cost so no matter how many efficiencies we drive … the market itself needs action, which is why we will continue to review a range of options.”

GSMA Intelligence figures place Fastweb as the smallest of the country’s five mobile operators by connections with 4.9 million in Q3, less than half of the number of its nearest competitor Iliad. Vodafone is the third largest by the same metric with 17.5 million behind Telecom Italia and WindTre.    

Previously, market rival Iliad Group had been rumoured to retain an interest in a deal for Vodafone’s unit despite the latter turning down an approach from the company’s owner in early 2022.