September 25, 2018 / 10:19 AM / 21 days ago

Rai Way makes revised bid for Telecom Italia's Persidera

MILAN, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Italian towers group Rai Way said it has made a binding offer for the network infrastructure and related activities of Telecom Italia-owned TV network and broadcasting business Persidera.

Telecom Italia (TIM) is considering selling some of its non-core assets, including Persidera and submarine network business Sparkle, to cut debt and focus on rolling out an ultrafast broadband network in Italy, investing in 5G infrastructure while expanding in Brazil, its only foreign market.

Rai Way, together with infrastructure fund F2i, had previously made an offer for all of Persidera, valuing the company at about 250 million euros ($294 million).

The revised offer announced on Tuesday is by Rai Way alone and excludes Persidera’s five multiplexes — bundles of digitised TV services — because it already has five of its own and antitrust regulations prevent it from owning more, a source close to the matter said.

The company did not disclose a figure for its offer, but the source said the value assigned to Persidera was not far from the previous bid.

U.S. infrastructure fund I Squared Capital has also submitted a revised offer for Persidera, two sources said without elaborating. The fund had previously submitted a non-binding expression of interest that valued the business at 290 million euros.

I Squared could not be reached for immediate comment.

Persidera is 70 percent-owned by TIM, with publisher GEDI owning the remaining 30 percent.

TIM, the biggest shareholder of which is French media group Vivendi, held an eight-hour board meeting on Monday and said it “undertook further analysis of the opportunities to invest in assets and dismiss non-core assets” but the matter is subject to further discussions.

Beyond Persidera, Sparkle and the ongoing 5G frequency auction, Chief Executive Amos Genish also discussed TIM’s interest in bidding for Nextel Brazil, one of the sources said, adding that the board had asked for more detail.

A separate source told Reuters last month that TIM’s Brazil unit, TIM Participacoes, was among several parties interested in bidding for NII Holdings’ Nextel business as a long-awaited consolidation in Brazilian telecoms shows signs of kicking off. ($1 = 0.8502 euros) (Reporting by Agnieszka Flak, Giancarlo Navach and Stephen Jewkes Editing by David Goodman)

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