Italy's Metroweb in talks to extend broadband deal - sources

MILAN, June 24 Mon Jun 24, 2013 6:20am EDT

MILAN, June 24 (Reuters) - Italian broadband company Metroweb is in talks with mobile phone operators Vodafone Italia and Wind, a unit of Russia's Vimpelcom, to extend a broadband commercial deal to other cities, two sources close to the matter told Reuters.

"Metroweb has already a commercial agreement with Vodafone and Wind covering Milan," one of them said. "It is verifying the possibility of replicating the deal in other cities."

Metroweb, controlled by state-backed financing agency Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) and infrastructure fund F2i, has an investment plan which aims to bring fiber optic cables to 30 Italian cities.

To be economically viable, the investment plan needs to ensure that there are enough clients to use the infrastructure.

Talks with the two mobile operators, however, have been slowed by Telecom Italia's recent decision to spin-off its fixed-line access network. Any deal with Vodafone and Wind is expected to be finalised in the medium term.

The companies could not be reached for comment.

The spinoff, which could be completed in up to 18 months, could pave the way for a sale of a stake in the network company to CDP. The second source said under the spinoff plan, Metroweb would be incorporated into the new entity.

The board of Telecom Italia approved on May 30 a plan to hive off fixed-line network assets into a new company, a move that could help it raise cash and that could trigger a regulatory overhaul.

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