* Enel is expected to hold a board meeting on the deal on Saturday
* CDP is set to take control of the company’s broadband infrastructure
* Deal seen as a potential upgrade for network projects with TIM (Adds Open Fiber statement, details)
MILAN, April 30 (Reuters) – Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) said on Friday it had agreed to bid Enel for 10% of Open Fiber in a move that would increase the Italian state lender’s stake in the broadband infrastructure company. . 60%.
This move comes as Enel, Italy’s largest utility company, prepares to sell its stake in Open Fiber. Macquarie’s Australian fund has offered up to 2.65 billion euros ($ 3.20 billion) for all or part of Enel’s 50% stake.
Enel is expected to hold a board meeting on Saturday to discuss the deal, said three sources with knowledge of the matter. Open Fiber on Friday said it was giving the necessary permits to the entrance to Macquarie in the capital.
CDP also said it had agreed to a binding term sheet with Macquarie outlining Open Fiber governance before the fund became a shareholder in the fiber-optic business.
With a controlling stake in Open Fiber, CDP has the potential to mitigate an old, disputed plan to combine Open Fiber network assets with the network assets of the former Italian telecom monopoly Telecom Italia to create a unified network operator.
Bets on the single broadband network project following the CDP announcement lifted the stake in Telecom Italia by 4%, making it the biggest winner on Milan’s blue-chip index.
CDP is the second largest shareholder in Telecom Italia, behind French media company Vivendi.
A single network will avoid duplicating investments in fiber launches as Italy seeks to close its digital divide with the rest of Europe, a priority of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s previous government.
However, several ministers in the new government led by Mario Draghi cast doubt on the plan due to regulatory issues, saying alternative options were also being considered.
CDP said it was committed to bringing in “new resources” before the deal closed to help accelerate development of broadband networks.
Under the proposed scheme, CDP and Enel will each inject cash into Open Fiber to boost its finances, three sources told Reuters. One source said each partner is likely to deposit around 150 million euros.
State-controlled Enel declined to comment and added it would make the statement only after analyzing official documents.
$ 1 = 0.8278 euros Report by Stephen Jewkes, Elvira Pollina and Giuseppe Fonte, additional reporting by Giancarlo Navach, written by Agnieszka Flak; editing by Simon Cameron-Moore, Kirsten Donovan