Telecom Italia Said Open to Majority Stake Disposal in Inwit

  • Holding in tower unit Inwit has market value of $1.8 billion
  • Board meeting scheduled for Friday to discuss tower strategy

Telecom Italia SpA is open to divesting as much as its entire 60 percent stake in Inwit SpA, the mobile-phone tower division that held an initial public offering earlier this year, to help reduce debt and finance acquisitions, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Directors are scheduled to discuss the ownership of Inwit at a meeting in Rio de Janeiro Sept. 25, which may lead to Chief Executive Officer Marco Patuano receiving a mandate to explore a disposal of the holding, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing private deliberations. Inwit shares have jumped more than 20 percent since their June debut in Milan, valuing Telecom Italia’s controlling stake at 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion).

Cellnex Telecom SAU, the Spanish tower operator spun off by Abertis Infraestructuras SA in May, is a potential bidder, with one scenario recently discussed being a purchase of half of Telecom Italia’s stake in Inwit, people familiar with the matter said last week.

A spokesman for Milan-based Telecom Italia declined to comment. At an event in Rome on Monday, CEO Patuano told reporters that the board would review Inwit’s strategy at this week’s gathering.

Inwit shares traded 0.9 percent higher at 4.44 euros at 3:52 p.m. in Milan. Telecom Italia narrowed earlier losses of as much as 2.6 percent, and was down 1.5 percent at 1.10 euros.

Inwit owns 11,500 sites, or about 27 percent of all Italian towers, according to the company. The operator posted 2014 pro-forma revenue of 314 million euros. Telecom Italia has a market value of 20.2 billion euros, which is outstripped by its almost 27 billion euros of net debt at the end of June.

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