Italy prepares decree to prompt merger of TV towers, sources reveal, according to Reuters.

Italy prepares decree to prompt merger of TV towers, sources reveal, according to Reuters.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Giancarlo Giorgetti attends the first voting session at the lower house of Parliament to elect the new president in Rome, Italy October 13, 2022. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane/File Photo

ROME (Reuters) – Italy is preparing a decree to facilitate a long-awaited tie-up between state-backed Rai Way and rival EI Towers, government officials said on Tuesday, which would create a group of state-backed TV towers worth more than 2 billion euros ($2.17 billion).

The merger “is a concrete hypothesis but still requires some reflection,” Cabinet Undersecretary Alberto Barachini told the press on the sidelines of an event at Parliament.

A second official, who asked not to be named, said the decree could allow state broadcaster RAI to reduce its stake in Rai Way below 30%.

News of the decree was first reported by Italian daily La Repubblica. Shares of Rai Way, listed in Milan, rose 6.4% after the report was released.

RAI owns 65% of Rai Way, while EI Towers is 60% owned by the F2i fund and 40% by MediaForEurope (MFE), controlled by the family of the late media mogul and political leader Silvio Berlusconi.

The official added that Rome intended to keep the towers’ infrastructure under state control, without providing further details on how the proposed merger should be implemented.

A previous proposed transaction would have seen Rai Way investors receive an extraordinary dividend worth up to €400 million.

RAI announced in January its intention to sell a 15% stake in Rai Way to raise resources to finance its new industrial project.

Following the announcement, Treasury sources told Reuters that the sale of the stake would not prevent RAI from subsequently exploring a tie-up between Rai Way and EI Towers.

One option under discussion within the ruling coalition would see RAI sell Rai Way shares to one or more state-sponsored investors, different sources previously told Reuters, in line with advice from the economy minister , Giancarlo Giorgetti, last July.

($1 = 0.9226 euros)

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