Telecom Italia may sell 25% of Sparkle in exchange for Metroweb

25 April 2016 | Alan Burkitt-Gray


Telecom Italia may hand a 25% stake in its international wholesale arm, Telecom Italia Sparkle, in exchange for national fibre network Metroweb.

Italian newspaper La Republicca reported at the weekend that the company was negotiating a two-stage deal with Fondo Strategico Italiano, an infrastructure-owning subsidiary of state investor Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, and F2i, that between them own Metroweb.

Telecom Italia would buy the F2i stake for cash and then take over FSI’s stake in the network in exchange for 25% of Sparkle.

The move for Telecom Italia to acquire Metroweb was first put forward in October 2015. Since then however, the incumbent’s moves to become a dominant force in Italian fibre have been undermined by state-controlled electricity company ENEL, which in April disclosed a plan to spend €2.5 billion in a national fibre network. It recruited a former Telecom Italia executive to lead the project.

A few days earlier Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi announced a “broadband everywhere” project that would start in May 2016.

However Telecom Italian is heavily indebted. In the last few weeks French media group Vivendi has acquired a stake of almost 25%.