Italian PM Discusses Possibility of Qatari Investment in Eni

Italy’s Prime Minister Enrico Letta discussed with Qatar the possibility of investing in Eni SpA (ENI) as the European country seeks to cut debt by selling state assets.

Qatar might add capital to the Rome-based company under a deal, Letta said in Doha. Italy owns the biggest stake in the oil producer, which rebounded from lows today in Milan trading.

Letta said he thanked the Middle Eastern country for “the bilateral discussions we had about Eni, the possibility of an investment by Qatar, new investment in Eni capital.”

A team from the Qatar Investment Authority will go to Italy to discuss investing “in different sectors,” said Mohammed Al-Sada, the Persian Gulf state’s energy minister. Qatar is open to tie-ups with energy and construction companies, he said.

Italy plans to sell stakes in some state companies to help reduce debt. In September, Letta’s cabinet committed to a three-year program of tax cuts, infrastructure improvements and changes to the civil justice system to make the country more appealing to foreign investors. Last month the government said it would sell 40 percent of the state postal service.

Letta met with officials in the United Arab Emirates in the past two days to discuss partnerships and investment by Abu Dhabi and Dubai companies in businesses and state ventures, he said late yesterday. He backed talks between Etihad Airways PJSC and Alitalia SpA aimed at determining whether the Persian Gulf carrier would buy a stake in Italy’s ailing airline.

Eni fell 0.2 percent to 16.82 euros by 1:34 p.m. in Milan, paring a decline of as much as 0.8 percent before Letta spoke.

To contact the reporters on this story: Robert Tuttle in Doha at rtuttle@bloomberg.net; Anthony DiPaola in Dubai at adipaola@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Lars Paulsson at lpaulsson@bloomberg.net; Alaric Nightingale at anightingal1@bloomberg.net

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