Following on from yesterday’s CommsUpdate story regarding the exclusive negotiations between Iliad of France and the Italian telcos 3 Italia and Wind Telecomunicazioni, the parties have now confirmed that they have reached an agreement for Iliad to acquire certain assets in Italy should the European Commission (EC) give the go-ahead for 3 Italia and Wind to merge. 3 and Wind’s parent companies, CK Hutchison and Vimpelcom, are offering to dispose of assets to allow Iliad to set up a new mobile network operation in Italy; they are hoping that this ‘remedy package’ will allay EC fears over the effect on competition caused by their planned merger. The EC is set to make a decision on the Wind/3 tie-up by 8 September.
Iliad says the agreement represents ‘a unique opportunity’ to become a fourth mobile network operator in Italy with nationwide coverage. The agreement involves:
• the transfer of a balanced set of 2×35MHz 3G/4G frequencies (2×5MHz at 900MHz, 2×10MHz at 1800MHz, 2×10MHz at 2100MHz and 2×10MHz at 2600MHz) for EUR450 million (USD510 million), payment of which is to be phased between 2017 and 2019
• an undertaking to acquire several thousand macro sites in densely populated areas offered by Wind/3 or rented from third parties
• an undertaking either to bring into force a radio access network (RAN) sharing agreement covering rural areas with Wind/3, or to acquire several thousand macro sites in those areas from Wind/3 or third parties
• a 2G, 3G and 4G roaming agreement on the merged network, for a period of five years, renewable for one further five-year period at the initiative of Iliad.
The French group adds that its majority shareholder Xavier Niel intends to dispose of his interest in another Italian operator, TIM, ‘in the coming weeks’. While Niel does hold an option to take a stake of around 10% in TIM via an investment company, at present he only has a ‘marginal financial interest (of less than EUR25 million)’.