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Vivendi reportedly open to state intervention over TIM

The latest twist in the Telecom Italia saga could involve the company going full circle with the Italian state taking back control.

At least that’s something Vivendi, which owns around a quarter of the company’s shares, is open to, according to a Bloomberg report. “The hypothesis of state control of the network, if it were preparatory to a strategic project led by the public sector, will definitely be evaluated with openness,” a Vivendi spokesperson told Bloomberg. “Vivendi is interested in all solutions that promote the efficiency and infrastructural modernity of the network while preserving the value of its investment.”

This story was originally broken by the Italian media and Reuters has interpreted the statement as referring solely to TIM’s fixed-line network, which the Italian state has retained a more active interest in. Either way this feels like a desperate concession from Vivendi, betting that government involvement in the company’s affairs will somehow increase the value of its investment.

Telecom Italia was state-owned originally but has been passed around various private sector interests like a hot potato since 1994. As is the case with many other countries, the fixed line bit remains the most contentious due to the incredibly high barriers to entry into that market and its strategic status within the national economy. The ideal combination of public and private investment is hard to find.

Maybe Vivendi is hoping the Italian government will chuck a bunch of money at TIM or even buy the fixed line stuff from it. What does seem clear is that it seems to think almost any alternative is preferable to the terms of the proposed KKR acquisition. It’s starting to look like, one way or the other, the Italian state is going to have to intervene in this process, in some way, sooner or later.

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