The Italian state-backed investment fund Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) has requested further time to conduct negotiations regarding the sale of a stake in national wholesale network operator Open Fiber, in which it holds a 50% interest. Its co-shareholder, utility group Enel, is looking to sell all or part of its 50% stake to Australian infrastructure fund Macquarie, with the 50% holding valued at EUR2.65 billion (USD3.2 billion). CDP has first right of refusal on any share sale and was given 30 days to make up its mind from the date of Enel’s confirmation of its plans to sell, which came on 23 December 2020.
A report from Reuters says that CDP has requested an extension to 25 February while it continues to study the situation. There have been rumours that some sections of the government are keen for CDP to take at least part of the Enel stake, possibly raising its interest to 60% to give it control of Open Fiber, which is seen as a strategic national asset, leaving Macquarie to acquire the remaining 40%. There are also negotiations ongoing which would see Open Fiber combined with the broadband networks business of Telecom Italia (TIM), which also counts CDP as a shareholder.