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.
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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