Telecom Italia makes all-cash bid for Italy's Metroweb - source

ROME (Reuters) - Telecom Italia TLIT.MI has made a formal all-cash offer to buy fibre network company Metroweb, valuing it at more than 820 million euros (648 million pounds), a source close to the matter said on Monday.

File photo of a Telecom Italia tower in Rome, Italy, March 22, 2016. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/Files

The former telephone monopoly is ready to buy all of Metroweb or a stake of 67.7 percent, the source said.

Milan-based Metroweb, currently owned by state-lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) and infrastructure fund F2i, would help Telecom Italia in its plans to roll out fast broadband across Italy.

It would also put it in a stronger position versus Enel ENEI.MI, which has announced its own plans to help develop a national fibre-optic broadband network and is also preparing to buy a controlling stake in Metroweb.

F2i was not immediately available to comment.

Telecom Italia had been looking to fund its acquisition of Metroweb partly by exchanging it for a stake in its international wholesale business Sparkle, according to sources familiar with the situation.

But the source said on Monday the offer was all cash because no agreement could be reached on how much Sparkle was worth.

CDP, which controls Italy's gas and power grid companies Snam SRG.MI and Terna TRN.MI, is keen to tighten its grip on strategic networks in the country.

On Saturday, a source told Reuters Enel had presented an informal offer to buy a majority stake in Metroweb, valuing it at 776 million euros.

Enel CEO Francesco Starace said in a newspaper on Sunday the group was still working on its offer which would “take a bit of time.”

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has made bringing ultrafast Internet to Italian homes and businesses a central plank of his reformist agenda.

Reporting by Alberto Sisto, editing by Giselda Vagnoni, writing by Stephen Jewkes. Editing by Jane Merriman