| MILAN, March 20
MILAN, March 20 Telecom Italia may
look into taking a minority stake in Italian fibre network
provider Metroweb to help boost its investments in faster
networks, people familiar with the matter said.
Buying a stake in Metroweb would allow Telecom Italia to
join forces with cash-rich, state-backed holding company Cassa
Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), which indirectly controls Metroweb
together with infrastructure fund F2i, they said.
However, such a complex project was at an embryonic stage
and no negotiations were under way at the moment, since Telecom
Italia was just one month away from renewing its board, the
"It's just a hypothesis for Telecom Italia," one of the
sources said, asking not to be named.
"Telecom could be interested but it's very premature ...
it's not being worked on at the moment," another source said.
A tie-up between Telecom Italia, which owns Italy's largest
fixed-line network, could help avoid duplications in costly
investments at a time when the former monopoly is battling to
cut debt of almost 27 billion euros ($37 billion).
A spokesman for Telecom Italia declined to comment, while
Metroweb said such a collaboration would make sense.
"It would be a welcome solution to improve the efficiency of
Italy's telecommunication system," Metroweb Chief Executive
Alberto Trondoli told Reuters.
Telecom Italia scrapped its dividend for the first time
earlier in March, saving about 290 million euros, a fraction of
the 3 billion euros a year it plans to invest in Italy.
Metroweb booked core profit of 47.2 million euros on
revenues of 60.9 million euros in 2012, according to the latest
figures on its website.
($1 = 0.7189 Euros)
(Additional reporting by Stephen Jewkes; Writing by Danilo
Masoni; Editing by Mark Potter)