Italy to announce privatisation plan by year-end -minister

MILAN Sun Oct 27, 2013 6:46am EDT

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MILAN Oct 27 (Reuters) - Italy plans to unveil by year-end the details of a debt-cutting privatisation plan that is likely to include stakes in state-owned companies, Economy Minister Fabrizio Saccomanni said in an interview with Italian television.

Asked whether Rome was planning to sell a lucrative 4.3 percent stake in oil and gas major Eni, which belongs to the Treasury, Saccomanni responded: "We have said, and Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta also said, that we intend to announce by the end of the year a privatisation plan that will include real estate assets and also stakes in companies, which are still numerous despite past privatisations."

Saccomanni, who was attending popular Saturday night talk show 'Che Tempo Che Fa', added, "We are considering all options. I don't want to add more details."

Reuters reported on Friday that the government was planning to start selling state-owned assets by the end of 2013, with the sale of the 4 percent of Eni, worth 2.8 billion euros, as a top priority.

The government is working on a list of stakes it could dispose of without losing direct or indirect control over the companies involved, sources with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters.

Asked whether the state could consider selling state-owned television network RAI, Saccomanni said: "RAI is one of the companies in which the state invests. We are looking at all options. Our goal is to help cut Italy's debt."

Italy is looking for a quick way to start reducing its public debt, which has ballooned to around 133 percent of its gross domestic product.

In the interview, Saccomanni said he was optimistic about the strength of the current coalition government despite turmoil within Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right.

"The damage on Italy's economy and society deriving from a new bout of political instability would be so great that I am convinced that in the end, political forces would not want to choose this path," Saccomanni said. (Reporting by Lisa Jucca; editing by Jane Baird)

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