MILAN — The potential bidders for Telecom Italia’s (TIM) network assets have asked for more time for talks given the size of the transaction, Italy’s biggest phone group said on Monday.
Italy’s state lender CDP is readying a preliminary offer for TIM’s landline grid as it pursues plans to create a single broadband company with smaller rival Open Fiber, in which it is the largest shareholder. Macquarie, which has a minority stake in Open Fiber, is also expected to join the bid.
Under a preliminary agreement sealed in May, CDP and TIM aimed for a binding deal by the end of October but the process has been subject to multiple delays and has been further complicated by Italy’s national election last month.
In a statement on Monday, TIM said that CDP, Macquarie and Open Fiber had requested an extension of the timeline to evaluate the information received from TIM.
TIM added that KKR, which owns a minority stake in its last mile network, was planning to remain aligned with TIM in the discussions.
The parties are set to meet this week, TIM said.
Valuation issues have also been a stumbling block in negotiations between TIM and CDP.
TIM’s top investor Vivendi is looking for a valuation of 31 billion euros ($30.06 billion) to back a sale of the grid with the prospect of a merger with Open Fiber, a source familiar with the French media group had said.
CDP values Telecom Italia’s landline grid in the region of 20 billion euros including debt, sources had previously said. Other sources pointed to a range of 15-18 billion euros. ($1 = 1.0314 euros) (Reporting by Elvira Pollina Writing by Keith Weir editing by Agnieszka Flak)