The head of Vodafone Italy has said that rival firm Telecom Italia (TIM) should not be allowed to control a joint networks venture with wholesale operator Open Fiber – should their proposed tie-up go ahead. TIM wants to merge its own fibre-optic infrastructure assets with those of Open Fiber to create a national broadband network. It is seeking investment funds to help finance the deal, with reports suggesting that more than a dozen potential partners have been invited to make an offer. It is thought that TIM will retain around 50% of the merged company.
Reuters writes, however, that Aldo Bisio, CEO of Vodafone Italy, is against the move if TIM ends up controlling the enlarged infrastructure company. ‘By way of [an] alternative to infrastructure competition, a merger of networks could be taken into consideration providing governance control is not actually in the hands of TIM,’ he said.
In a separate tie-up, TIM and Vodafone are proceeding with a merger of their mobile tower assets as part of a network sharing agreement. The deal, which is expected to complete in the first half of next year if given regulatory approval, will leave each telco with a 37.5% stake in the enlarged tower company. TIM has said it will look to offload part of its stake to investment funds. TIM and Vodafone have agreed to retain minimum stakes of 25% each in the shared infrastructure unit.