Senators seek to reform Italy's takeover law in 2014

ROME Sun Nov 10, 2013 12:20pm EST

ROME (Reuters) - A cross-party group of lawmakers signed a proposed amendment to Italy's 2014 budget that would lower the threshold for obligatory takeovers to 15 from 30 percent, senators said on Sunday.

The amendment would force any shareholder who owns more than 15 percent of a company to launch a bid for all its listed shares if that stake is deemed to give them control.

Italian newspapers named up to nine senators as signatories to the amendment, of which three - center-left Democratic Party senator Valeria Fedeli and center-right People of Freedom senators Maurizio Gasparri and Paola Pelino - confirmed to Reuters they had signed.

Politicians from both chambers of Italy's parliament can propose amendments to the budget. The motions will be debated and the package is expected to be wrapped up by end-November.

The law governing obligatory takeovers has captured the spotlight in Italy since Spain's Telefonica (TEF.MC) struck a deal to gradually take over Telecom Italia's (TLIT.MI) controlling shareholder, giving rise to concerns about national security, job losses and investment among some Italian politicians and trade unions.

Under the proposed amendment, if Telefonica decides to increase its stake it could be forced to make an offer to all shareholders in Telecom Italia, which is worth more than 13 billion euros ($17.35 billion).

A Treasury official said last month that Italy would "rapidly" seek to change the current law, but a government source said shortly after that there were no near-term plans to modify legislation.

($1 = 0.7491 euros)

(Reporting by Naomi O'Leary and Isla Binnie; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)