Italy approves single network plan as deal with TIM sought - papers

Credit: REUTERS/STEFANO RELLANDINI

Italy's government has approved a single broadband network proposal that could be presented to Telecom Italia next week as part of a bid to resolve months of wrangling over control of the future network, several newspapers said on Thursday.

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MILAN, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Italy's government has approved a single broadband network proposal that could be presented to Telecom Italia next week as part of a bid to resolve months of wrangling over control of the future network, several newspapers said on Thursday.

The plan, which would restrict Telecom Italia's TLIT.MI (TIM) control of the future network while allowing it to keep a majority holding, was presented to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and top ministers on Wednesday by the head of state lender CDP.

CDP declined to comment.

The papers, including La Repubblica, Corriere della Sera and Il Messaggero, said the road map for development of the network could be presented to the TIM board on Monday in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding.

Rome is pushing to create a single high speed broadband network open equally to all operators to close Italy's digital divide with the rest of Europe and wants Telecom Italia to merge its fibre assets with rival operator Open Fiber.

However the plan has been held up by governance issues, with Telecom Italia insisting on maintaining control of a future network and Open Fiber supporting a wholesale-only business not controlled by TIM.

The papers said the plan presented on Wednesday would allow TIM to own a majority of the network company's capital while imposing strict governance restrictions on the former phone monopolist.

Daily La Stampa said a strong state presence would be guaranteed and TIM would not be allowed a majority of board members in the future network.

According to Il Sole 24 Ore TIM could have the right to nominate the CEO of the network company while CDP would be able to name the chairman and would also have a right of veto.

CDP is TIM's second-biggest shareholder and controls Open Fiber alongside utility Enel ENEI.MI.

Earlier this month, TIM postponed to Aug. 31 a decision to sell 37.5% of its last-mile grid to KKR after the government asked for more time to broker a broader network agreement including Open Fiber.

(Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; editing by James Mackenzie and Giles Elgood)

((stephen.jewkes@thomsonreuters.com; +39.0266129695; Reuters Messaging: stephen.jewkes.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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