MILAN, March 13 Telecom Italia is
continuing talks over a possible spin-off of its copper-wire
network, its chief operating officer said on Wednesday, a
project that could help the group pay down heavy debts and free
up funds for investment.
The debate over such a spin-off has been going on for months
and in December the company mandated management to further
investigate a possible sale of a stake in the network to state
fund Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP).
Some analysts have valued the network at 15 billion euros.
"All the discussions that were started continue in an
orderly way to arrive at an orderly conclusion," Telecom Italia
COO Marco Patuano said on the sidelines of a conference.
"Certainly the situation is not the most favourable one, but
the important (thing) is not losing the thread of the
Telecom Italia, which launched a 750 million euro ($976
million) hybrid bond on Wednesday, had initially aimed to decide
on the network spin-off plan by the end of last year.
The biggest obstacle to an agreement with CDP appeared to be
the valuation of the network and the governance of the new
company to be set up to manage the infrastructure, people
familiar with the situation have said.
($1 = 0.7680 euros)
(Reporting By Stefano Rebaudo; Writing by Danilo Masoni;
Editing by Tom Pfeiffer)