Enel expected to kick off process to sell Open Fiber stake -sources

MILAN (Reuters) – Italian utility Enel is expected at a board meeting on Thursday to kick off a process to sell all or part of its stake in fast broadband company Open Fiber to Australian investment fund Macquarie, three sources close to the matter said.

FILE PHOTO: A logo of Italian multinational energy company Enel is seen at the Milan’s headquarter, Italy, February 5, 2020. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo

The board is expected to give management a mandate to press ahead with a deal and give it more time to iron out details, one of the sources said.

Enel, which jointly controls Open Fiber with state lender CDP, received a binding bid from Macquarie in September for its stake, valuing the whole of the broadband group at about 7.3 billion euros.

Enel has not committed to a sale of its stake but last month its chief executive, Francesco Starace, said it was “good to exit Open Fiber now … We think we can do it if conditions are right”.

A sale by Enel of its stake could clear the way for a government-sponsored plan to merge it with the last-mile grid unit of Telecom Italia and create a unified network.

CDP is the second-biggest shareholder in Telecom Italia behind French media giant Vivendi.

Sources have previously said Rome wants Macquarie to buy less than 50% so that CDP can take control of the operator and make sure the blueprint for a single network is respected.

“The idea is Enel sells 40% to Macquarie and the rest to CDP,” one of the sources said.

CDP has a right of first refusal on the Enel stake in case of a sale.

Enel and Macquarie declined to comment.

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