Published in Network

Tim flogs off fixed-line business to Americans

by on06 November 2023

First to part from landlines

Telecom Italia, which has the Monty Python acronym Tim, has flogged off its fixed-line network to US private equity firm KKR for €19 billion.

Tim is the first significant telecoms group in a European country to part ways with its landline grid having seen which way the wind is blowing and calculated the windspeed of a fully laden African swallow carrying a coconut.

What is odd is that Italy views this asset as nationally strategic so flogging it to the Americans does seem a backwards step.

However, Tim once had shedloads of cash and now has rather a lot of debt. Tim CEO Pietro Labriola’s strategic vision is to revitalise the debt-laden former phone monopoly, which has been grappling with the challenges of maintaining its ageing grid.

The approval came after an extensive review of KKR’s offer by the board, with 11 directors in favour and three against.

The deal, valued at €18.8 billion, including debt, could reach €22 billion under certain conditions specified by Tim. Most notably, the earnout is contingent on the amalgamation of TIM’s grid with state-backed fibre optic rival Open Fiber, paving the way for a unified telecoms network.

This strategic move not only allows TIM to reduce its financial debt substantially by around €14 billion, but facilitates a significant restructuring within the company.

TIM plans to streamline its operations by shedding half its 40,000 domestic staff and refocusing on its core service offerings.

Italy’s government has authorised the Treasury to spend up to €2.2 billion to acquire a 20 per cent stake in the network alongside KKR.

 This partnership aims to safeguard Italy’s digital infrastructure while fostering growth and innovation in the telecom sector.

Leading shareholder Vivendi – which owns 24 per cent of TIM – has expressed dissent regarding the board’s decision.

It wants a higher price for the sale and raises concerns about the sustainability of the business left behind.

Tim has chosen not to subject the decision to a shareholder vote, either. The sale, slated to conclude in the summer of 2024.

Last modified on 06 November 2023
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