UPDATE 1-Italy investor Della Valle says looking at buying La7

Sat Feb 16, 2013 2:26pm EST

(Adds quote on decision, background)

ROME Feb 16 (Reuters) - Diego Della Valle, head of Italian shoemaker Tod's, said on Saturday he has made "a serious show of interest" in buying television network La7, which is owned by a unit of Telecom Italia.

In a statement, Della Valle said he asked the Telecom Italia board for time to study a possible purchase. Telecom had sought offers for its Telecom Italia Media unit (TI Media), which owns La7, but a deadline for offers ended on Friday.

"My idea is to unite a group of people as shareholders who love our country and who want to support an important instrument of information, guaranteeing it total autonomy, and to bring in shareholders who are professionals currently working at La7, and also others who want to participate in this project," Della Valle said in the statement.

A person with knowledge of the bidding process said Italy's largest broadcaster would see what offer he brought to the table on Monday before making a decision.

TI Media, controlled by Telecom Italia, has already received two binding offers for its assets. Small Italian TV network Europa 7 has also joined the race, according to sources close to the process.

Telecom Italia has put up for sale the loss-making television company, of which it owns 77.7 percent, to help cut debt and focus on its core telecoms business.

The telecoms group is also in talks with its banks over a 3 billion euros loan deal. Moody's cut its rating on Telecom Italia by one notch to Baa3 on Monday, citing weaker cash flow and a failure to meet a year-end debt target.

Italy's largest commercial broadcaster, Mediaset, is owned by former prime minister and centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi.

(Reporting by Steve Scherer and Danilo Masoni, writing by Jessica Donati; Editing by Jason Webb)

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