Italy still wants control of TIM's grid after KKR approach

Confidence vote over the 2023 budget, in Rome
Italian Economy Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti looks on during a confidence vote over the 2023 budget at the lower house of the parliament, in Rome, Italy December 23, 2022. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/

ROME, Feb 3 (Reuters) - The Italian government is keen to implement its goal of putting Telecom Italia's (TLIT.MI) grid in state hands after a non binding approach for a controlling stake in the network from U.S. fund KKR <KKR.N>, the economy minister said on Friday.

Rome will evaluate KKR's offer once all details are available, minister Giancarlo Giorgetti told reporters.

"Our strategic control of the network remains a declared objective and one that we are trying to put into practice," Giorgetti said.

KKR's move comes after fruitless talks over the future of debt-laden TIM between the government and the group's leading investors, Vivendi (VIV.PA) and Italian state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP).

Providing Italy's telecoms backbone, the network is deemed strategic by the government which can block unwanted interest under so-called golden powers rules.

A source close to the matter said KKR offer valued the network at "north of" 20 billion euros ($21.9 billion).

KKR has indicated Feb. 28 as deadline for its offer, which envisages a request to have access to TIM's data under a due diligence process, a separate source added.

After an initial meeting on Thursday over KKR's approach, TIM said on Thursday its board would regroup on Feb. 24 to decide on the proposal, the terms of which have not been disclosed.

The former phone monopoly said it remained open to any alternative that may emerge in the meantime.

People familiar with the matter have told Reuters CDP still plans to promote its own proposal for TIM's infrastructure.

($1 = 0.9151 euros)

Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte in Rome and Elvira Pollina in Milan, editing by Federico Maccioni and Keith Weir

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