• State lender acts after bid is raised to 814 million euros
  • Adding Metroweb would boost utility’s move into broadband

The board of Italian state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti picked Enel SpA to enter exclusive talks to buy fiber carrier Metroweb, a deal that would give the energy company scale as it begins to offer fast broadband service across Italy, according to people familiar with the matter.

CDP, which holds about 46 percent of Metroweb, authorized chairman Claudio Costamagna and Chief Executive Officer Fabio Gallia to discuss the stake exclusively with Enel, said the people, asking not to be named since the decision is not public. Enel, Italy’s largest utility, has the state as its largest shareholder. Its latest offer values Metroweb at 814 million euros ($907 million), an amount that matches a rival bid from Telecom Italia, people familiar with the matter said Tuesday.

Spokesmen for CDP and Enel declined to comment.

Adding Metroweb, which offers fast broadband service in its home base of Milan, would jump start Enel’s efforts to expand into telecom business across the country. Enel plans to merge Metroweb with its Enel Open Fiber unit. Interest in Metroweb has been heightened by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s goal of covering the entire country with faster Internet connections by 2020.

Metroweb is controlled by Italian infrastructure fund F2i SGR SpA, which has 54 percent, along with CDP. CDP is the financial arm of the Italian government.

Italy’s Economy Ministry holds a 24 percent stake in Enel.

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