The Italian government is studying the possibility of pushing incumbent operator Telecom Italia (TIM) to spin off its network assets into a separate company. Reuters reports that authorities in Rome are looking to counter the influence of French firm Vivendi, which has a 24% stake in TIM. The new networks company would remain part of the Telecom Italia Group but be a separate legal entity, offering access to infrastructure to all parties – including TIM – on an equal basis. Similar retail and network splits have previously been carried out in countries such as the UK. Reuters cites an unnamed source as saying: ‘It’s not easy to do, and TIM would likely fight it, but it’s technically possible.’
Meanwhile, the Rome government is meeting this week to discuss the use of its so-called ‘golden power’ at TIM, which allows it to intervene to protect companies that are deemed to be of strategic national interest. Vivendi and TIM both deny that the French firm has de facto control over the Italian telco, though the state has become increasingly concerned over Vivendi’s influence.