MILAN/ROME, Nov 28 (Reuters) -
Italy's new government will probably need to seek fresh
options for ailing former phone monopoly Telecom Italia
, as a planned bid for its landline grid by state
lender CDP appears increasingly unlikely.
Championed by the previous government of Mario Draghi, the
multi-billion-euro bid is part of a broader project to combine
TIM's network assets with those of smaller rival Open Fiber to
create a unified broadband champion under CDP's control.
Due by this Wednesday, Nov. 30, an offer would also be
central to TIM CEO Pietro Labriola's plan to break up the
struggling phone group to cut its 25 billion euro ($26 billion)
But Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni favours putting
CDP's bid on hold, a government source told Reuters on Monday.
Three separate sources had previously said CDP was
unlikely to meet Wednesday's deadline, with a fourth source
saying CDP had not scheduled a board meeting yet to approve an
Meloni's office and the Treasury did not immediately
respond to requests for comment.
Marking a break with the past, Meloni on Friday
entrusted the government's broadband strategy to cabinet
undersecretary Alessio Butti, who has openly criticised CDP's
plans for TIM.
Butti has called instead on Treasury-owned CDP to take over
cash-bleeding TIM in full to then sell its service operations,
including its Brazil-listed unit.
Economy Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti last week said Butti's
plans required extensive discussions within the government,
which had "several options" to secure control of TIM's network.
Analysts say coming up with a new plan to combine TIM and
Open Fiber would require at least a year, leaving TIM's fate in
doubt at a time when rising rates increase the drain on the
group's cash flow from interest payments.
"The timing to find a path starts to narrow considering
that TIM's available liquidity covers debt maturities until
mid-2024 and debt refinancing looks tougher than in the past."
Intesa Sanpaolo wrote in a research note.
($1 = 0.9549 euros)
(Reporting by Elvira Pollina and Giuseppe Fonte; writing by
Editing by Keith Weir)