The Italian government met this week to explore a EUR4.0 billion (USD4.6 billion), six-year incentive programme designed to encourage the country’s major telecoms operators to expand their fibre-optic networks, Bloomberg reports. Around half of the total is expected to be used for network expansion in rural areas, although as much as EUR2.4 billion in additional funding may be drawn from European regional development funds.
In other news, Italian fibre wholesaler Metroweb has reportedly sent out letters of invitation to a number of leading banking firms requesting advisory services over its possible merger with either Telecom Italia (TI) or Vodafone Italy. According to local media reports, letters were sent to Lazard, HSBC, Rothschild and Leonardo & Co, with responses expected by the end of next week. TI and Vodafone have both expressed an interest in bidding for control of Milan-based Metroweb, but infrastructure fund F2i, which owns an indirect stake in the firm, is not expected to make a decision on the future of the company until the two interested parties reveal their investment plans.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, F2i is looking to offload its 53.8% stake in Metroweb Holding, which in turn holds 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 FastWeb has an 11% direct stake in the wholesaler.