MILAN, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Telecom Italia (TIM) and Open Fiber have signed a non-disclosure agreement that could include initial moves towards merging the two companies’ network assets, daily La Repubblica reported on Saturday, without giving further details.
Open Fiber, controlled by Italy’s biggest utility Enel and state lender CDP, started two years ago to build a fast fibre network in the country after Rome accused incumbent TIM of acting too slowly to upgrade its ageing copper network.
But the populist government which took office in June thinks a single network would be more efficient, although Economy Minister Giovanni Tria has said it was a matter for private companies to decide.
CDP also owns almost 5 percent of TIM.
A source close to the situation said the agreement, which was signed earlier this week, is a continuation of a commercial accord signed in November by Open Fiber and TIM’s previous chief executive Amos Genish.
The source did not know if this new agreement included any additional measures.
TIM and Open Fiber both declined to comment.
Open Fiber CEO Elisabetta Ripa said on Thursday commercial deals were the only ground on which its company and TIM can collaborate.
TIM CEO Luigi Gubitosi said this week in an interview with Corriere della Sera daily that the former telecoms monopoly is ready to discuss commercial accords, co-investments and a possible network combination with Open Fiber.
Enel CEO Francesco Starace said on Friday he was glad that TIM and Open Fiber were eventually “sitting at a table” and that he had called for this to happen for three years. (Reporting by Stephen Jewkes Writing by Giulio Piovaccari Editing by David Holmes)