French telecoms investor Xavier Niel says he has disposed of all direct and indirect shares and options in Telecom Italia, leaving his Iliad unit free to acquire assets being sold by Italian telcos Wind and 3 Italia as Iliad looks to set up a new mobile network operator (MNO) in the country. Wind and 3 have agreed to divest certain spectrum and physical infrastructure to allay competition concerns and help clear the way for their proposed EUR21.8 billion (USD24 billion) merger. Niel had previously acquired options to take a 15% interest in Telecom Italia but said that he would sell up to avoid a conflict of interest with Iliad.
Meanwhile, following yesterday’s announcement of a fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) joint venture with Telecom Italia, ISP Fastweb says it is likely to divest its minority stake in rival fibre operator Metroweb. Metroweb is expected to join with utility group Enel as part of a separate FTTH venture under its new Enel Open Fiber (EOF) vehicle, and this will operate in competition with the newly created Fastweb/Telecom operation. Alberto Calcagno, CEO of Swisscom-owned Fastweb, told Corriere della Sera that it was ‘difficult to align’ his company’s interests with those of Enel.
Finally, EOF has signed a wholesale deal with another Italian ISP, GO Internet. GO operates wireless broadband systems in the Marche and Emilia Romagna regions and is looking to use EOF’s FTTH networks to increase its presence across the country.