By Elvira Pollina and Giuseppe Fonte
MILAN (Reuters) – U.S. fund KKR and Italy’s Treasury are set to ask Telecom Italia (TIM) for extra time to arrange a joint multi-billion-euro offer for the telecoms group’s landline grid, three sources close to the matter said on Wednesday.
In June, Telecom Italia granted KKR a period of exclusive talks until Sept. 30 to submit a binding bid for NetCo, a venture comprising TIM’s fixed access network and submarine cable unit Sparkle.
KKR and the Treasury are preparing a formal request to TIM to secure “a few extra weeks” to finalise the bid, the sources said, with one of the sources saying parties are discussing a two-week extension.
KKR’s preliminary bid valued the business at around 23 billion euros ($24.59 billion) including debt and taking into account a number of variables.
Last month the U.S. fund received the backing of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s conservative administration, which adopted two decrees authorising the Treasury to join KKR’s bid for an asset deemed of strategic national interest.
One of the decrees allows the Treasury to submit a binding offer together with KKR and other Italian investors, resulting in a minority stake for the ministry in NetCo worth a maximum 2.2 billion euros.
However, the Treasury needs the green light of the national audit court for the plan to go ahead, two of the sources said, explaining this motivated the request for more time and adding that the court was expected to give its opinion in October.
($1 = 0.9352 euros)