Italian telecoms group Telecom Italia (TIM) has received a request from US private equity fund KKR to extend the deadline for its non-binding offer to buy a stake in the fixed network, at the request of the Italian government.
The extension of the deadline “is due to a request from the government for an additional four weeks to carry out a joint analysis of the public aspects of the transaction relating to the powers that the government can exercise in the sector,” TIM said in a statement last night.
The extension extends the deadline until 24 March for KKR’s bid, which in any case “has confirmed its willingness to continue a constructive dialogue with TIM and to continue due diligence activities”.
On 2 February, the Italian group revealed that it had received a non-binding offer from KKR to “acquire a stake in the creation of a company matching the perimeter of management and infrastructure of the fixed network including the assets and activities of FiberCop, as well as the stake in Sparkle (called Netco)”.
This is ‘a non-binding offer referring to a stake to be defined, on the understanding that the purchase would entail the loss of the vertical integration with TIM’, TIM said at the time.
“TIM confirms that, in any case, the Board of Directors will be held on 24 February 2023 to discuss KKR’s non-binding offer and take the appropriate decisions,” the Italian group concluded in its latest statement.
The Italian telco’s board of directors will meet to examine the offer from the US fund, one of the main shareholders of Spain’s MásMóvil after the takeover bid launched in 2020 and which had already submitted a bid for the whole of TIM in 2021 that it did not confirm.
The government is “closely monitoring the offer made by the KKR fund” to take a stake in Tim’s Netco, “a company that today plays a crucial role in telephony services, in the realisation of broadband in our country and in the infrastructure of the National Strategic Pole”, the Ministry of Enterprises and ‘Made in Italy’ (MIMIT) said on 2 October, when the offer was announced.
For the executive branch, “safeguarding employment levels and the security of a strategic infrastructure such as the national telecommunications network are fundamental. On the basis of these premises, the evolution of Italy’s leading telephone company will be assessed,” it added.
KKR’s bid comes after the government has in recent months expressed its desire for a national network under public control, with a project spearheaded by public bank Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), which last year had signed a memorandum on the network front with TIM, Macquarie, KKR itself and Open Fiber.