Telecom Italia confirms it's exploring network spin-off, Mediaset deal

Wednesday 6 December 2017 | 08:40 CET | News

Telecom Italia (TIM) has finally confirmed that it will take steps to explore the separation of its national fixed-line network to address concerns from the Italian government, regulators and its competitors. In a statement following a board meeting called to discuss the 2018-2020 Business Plan and approve the 2018 preliminary budget, TIM said it would look into a possible spin-off of the network. "Over the coming months, the management will continue to examine various hypotheses to establish whether network separation is needed to address institutions’ input and to unlock value," said the company.

The announcement confirms recent reports that the company was planning to hire advisers to evaluate a separation of the grid, said to be worth up to EUR 15 billion, and possibly sell a minority stake to raise cash. Unnamed sources cited by Reuters suggested that TIM was trying to buy time with its latest announcement and was unlikely to make any decisions on the network before national elections due by May 2018.

The current government has repeatedly expressed its concern about main shareholder Vivendi's influence over an asset considered in the national interest. Italian communications regulator Agcom last month announced that it would decide on new remedies to guarantee the neutrality and openness of the grid by the middle of next year, with one option being to force TIM to turn it into a separate but wholly-owned legal entity.

In its statement, TIM also announced that it’s in discussions with broadcaster Mediaset over "a new and comprehensive multi-year agreement" including movies, TV series and sport news. The company said the deal would come into force from 2018 with both linear and on-demand channels included to enrich the company’s TIMVision platform and its recently-launched 'TIM Show' multimedia content offer with music, video games, TV series and news available to TIM mobile users at no extra cost.

The agreement could be worth over EUR 400 million and could help settle the longstanding conflict between Mediaset and Vivendi, according to Italian press reports.

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