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Intesa’s IMI, F2i to Buy Metroweb in 436-Million-Euro Deal

Intesa Sanpaolo SpA’s IMI Investimenti unit and infrastructure fund F2i SpA agreed to buy Metroweb SpA from A2A SpA and Stirling Square Capital Partners in a deal valuing the owner of Milan’s largest fiber-optic network at 436 million euros ($628 million).

Metroweb, whose network is the biggest in the northern Italian city and the surrounding region of Lombardy, has more than 7,000 kilometers (4,350 miles) of cables and covers an area with more than 2.7 million people. Stirling Square, a London-based private equity firm, bought 76.5 percent of the company in 2006 from A2A, Milan’s municipal utility, which retained the remaining 23.5 percent.

“The valuation of the company is generous and indicates it’s a profitable business,” said Emanuele Vizzini, chief investment officer of Investitori SGR in Milan. “Strategic infrastructures are becoming increasingly attractive.”

The deal is based on an enterprise value for Metroweb of more than 10 times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, A2A said in a statement today. Fastweb SpA, controlled by Swisscom AG, has expressed an interest in purchasing a minority stake in Metroweb after Intesa and F2i complete the acquisition in June, F2i and Intesa said in a joint statement. A spokeswoman for Milan-based Fastweb confirmed the contents of the statement.

A group comprising Vodafone Group Plc, Clessidra Sgr SpA and Wind Telecomunicazioni SpA, as well as Antin Infrastructure Partners SAS and a unit of Axa Private Equity also put in bids, people familiar with the deal said May 3.

Capital Gain

A2A, which sold its stake for 53 million euros, will realize a capital gain of about 38 million euros, according to the statement. Following the closing of the deal, Metroweb will draft a new industrial plan to expand in other metropolitan areas, with a focus on northern Italy.

A2A will hold a convertible bond loan issued by Metroweb that, if exercised, will correspond to a stake of about 25 percent in the company. A2A and Intesa said that five lenders including Mediobanca SpA and Societe Generale SA will provide financing for the deal.

Metroweb, led by Chief Executive Officer Alberto Trondoli, is an independent open-network access provider that offers its infrastructure to third parties including Telecom Italia SpA, FastWeb SpA, Vodafone and Wind.

Lazard Ltd. advised Stirling Square and A2A on the sale.

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