Telecom Italia (TI) has confirmed that it has expressed an interest in acquiring all or part of infrastructure fund F2i’s indirect stake in domestic fibre network operator Metroweb, with negotiations to begin ‘soon’. TI chief executive Marco Patuano is reported by Reuters as saying: ‘We have offered two options: a total purchase (of F2i’s stake) or a partial one. There will be talks soon.’ F2i is looking to offload its 53.8% stake in Metroweb Holding, which in turn has an 87.7% interest in Metroweb. State-backed holding company Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) holds the remaining 46.2% of Metroweb Holding, while Italian internet service provider (ISP) FastWeb has an 11% direct stake.
Alternative operators Wind and Vodafone have both called for TI’s move to buy into Metroweb to be blocked on competition grounds. They have called for Metroweb to become an ‘open access’ vehicle which provides fibre connectivity on a wholesale basis to operators such as themselves, FastWeb and Tiscali.