Macquarie bids for Open Fiber

Luigi Gubitosi1.jpg

The creation of a single Italian network took another step towards realisation last week when Enel received a non-binding bid from Macquarie Infrastructure Real Assets (MIRA) for “the acquisition of the whole or part” of its 50% stake in Open Fiber.

If successful, the deal is expected to become a “catalyst” for ongoing negotiations that have stalled several times.

Italian broker Fidentiis told Reuters: “We believe that the entrance of Macquarie ... could be a strong catalyst towards the creation of the single network as it could speed up negotiation given Enel’s sceptical stance on the matter.”

While Open Fiber has maintained that its business model is the “most suitable to encourage the huge investments necessary to create a new high-capacity access network”, others have disagreed.

Earlier this year Telecom Italia CEO Luigi Gubitosi (pictured) renewed calls for Open Fiber to be replaced with a single broadband network, controlled by a vertically integrated provider, such as TIM.

The deal is support by the Minister of Economic Development, Stefano Patuanelli who said in April that he looked on the project “with great favour: I believe it is fundamental for the country”.

TIM said at the time: “A duplication of the network makes no sense and is not in the interest of the country. As far as the structure of the single network is concerned, in our opinion the model to be adopted is a network under the control of a vertically integrated operator such as Tim, rather than a wholesale only model that has proven to be unsuccessful wherever it has been applied.”

With MIRA's bid gaining support, a single network could now become a reality.

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