January 21, 2014 / 2:45 PM / in 4 years

UPDATE 1-Italy sees sale of post office stake in 5-6 months

(Updates with details of minister’s statement)

ROME, Jan 21 (Reuters) - The sale of a 30-40 percent in Italy’s stake in publicly owned post office group Poste Italiane could take place by June or July, Deputy Industry Minister Antonio Catricala said on Tuesday.

The move is an attempt to help cut the country’s debt, expected to be 132.7 percent of national output at the end of this year and surpassed only by Greece in the European Union.

“A period between five or six months is conceivable to finalise the details of the operation,” Catricala said in a parliamentary hearing, adding that Italy would retain a majority stake in the service.

Prime Minister Enrico Letta has announced plans to raise up to 12 billion euros through the sale of stakes in public entities including oil and gas group Eni.

The post office has not been valued and it is not clear how much the sale of the stake would raise.

Catricala said it could be sold through a public offering or a direct sale. He noted that in privatisations of postal services in other European countries, shares had been given to employees.

Italy has repeatedly pledged in recent years to sell state-owned assets without making significant progress. It has made new commitments to do so amid growing pressure from the European Commission to reduce a debt pile that has grown during years of recession. (Reporting by Alberto Sisto, writing by Naomi O‘Leary)

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