Iliad in deal to create fourth Italian mobile operator

PARIS (Reuters) - France's Iliad ILD.PA has agreed to create a fourth Italian mobile telecoms operator, it said on Tuesday, smoothing the way for CK Hutchison Holdings 0001.HK to merge its 3 Italia with Vimplelcom's VIP.O Wind.

The announcement confirms a Reuters report.

A fourth Italian mobile telecoms operator would help Hutchison gain antitrust approval for a merger that would leave Telecom Italia TLIT.MI and Vodafone Italia VOD.L as the only other mobile network competitors in Italy.

Iliad said that its founder and majority shareholder billionaire Xavier Niel would sell in "in the next few weeks" options in Telecom Italia TLIT.MI that could have handed him a 15.1 percent stake in the Italian firm.

The agreement, which involves the sale of frequencies and infrastructure assets to Iliad, is subject to European Commission approval as well as to the Commission’s approval of the H3G/Wind transaction under the EU merger regulation, for which a decision is due by Sept. 8, the statement said.

The deal notably involves the transfer of a balanced set of 2x35MHz 3G/4G frequencies (2x5MHz at 900MHz, 2x10MHz at 1800MHz, 2x10MHz at 2100MHz and 2x10MHz at 2600MHz) for 450 million euros, with payment phased between 2017 and 2019.

The deal also covers a 2G, 3G and 4G roaming agreement on the merged network, for five years, renewable for one further five-year period at the initiative of Iliad.

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon Additional reporting by Mathieu Rosemain; Editing by Ruth Pitchford