Enel CEO says time right to exit Open Fiber



* Operator jointly owned by Enel and Italy's state lender

* Australia's Macquarie bid for Enel's stake in September

* Sale would clear way for merger with Telecom's network

By Elvira Pollina, Stephen Jewkes and Giuseppe Fonte

MILAN, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Enel's ENEI.MI head said on Tuesday it could be the right time for the Italian utility to exit broadband operator Open Fiber as an offer by Australian fund Macquarie gives the group a big opportunity to monetise its investment.

A sale by Enel of its stake in the operator could clear the way for a government-sponsored plan to merge it with the last-mile grid unit of incumbent Telecom Italia (TIM) TLIT.MI and create a unified network, boosting connectivity across Italy.

Open Fiber is jointly owned by Enel and Italian State lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), which is also TIM's second-largest investor.

"Probably, it is good for us to exit Open Fiber now. We think we can do it if conditions are right", Francesco Starace told reporters during a business plan presentation.

Macquarie submitted a binding bid for all or part of Enel's 50% stake in Open Fiber in September, valuing the whole of the broadband group at about 7.3 billion euros ($8.67 billion).

Two sources close to the matter said on Tuesday the fund was looking at the idea of syndicating the stake, adding it had asked Enel for clearance to share its evaluation model with potential co-investors but had not requested access to the data room for them.

Starace said should Enel decide to sell its stake, it would do so right away and would give operational control of Open Fiber to CDP.

Sources have told Reuters that Enel was leaning towards announcing its exit from Open Fiber as early as this month, adding CDP asked to raise its stake to 60%, with Macquarie acquiring the remaining 40%.

The government has told Enel any stake sale must conform with its plans to create a national ultra-fast network without delay.

Starace said Enel could transfer its experience with Open Fiber to Latin America broadband company Ufinet, in which it has a 21% stake with options to buy more.

"Macquarie is one of the potential partners in Ufinet," he said.

($1 = 0.8418 euros)
Reporting by Elvira Pollina and Stephen Jewkes; editing by David Evans and Barbara Lewis

Disclaimer: The XM Group entities provide execution-only service and access to our Online Trading Facility, permitting a person to view and/or use the content available on or via the website, is not intended to change or expand on this, nor does it change or expand on this. Such access and use are always subject to: (i) Terms and Conditions; (ii) Risk Warnings; and (iii) Full Disclaimer. Such content is therefore provided as no more than general information. Particularly, please be aware that the contents of our Online Trading Facility are neither a solicitation, nor an offer to enter any transactions on the financial markets. Trading on any financial market involves a significant level of risk to your capital.

All material published on our Online Trading Facility is intended for educational/informational purposes only, and does not contain – nor should it be considered as containing – financial, investment tax or trading advice and recommendations; or a record of our trading prices; or an offer of, or solicitation for, a transaction in any financial instruments; or unsolicited financial promotions to you.

Any third-party content, as well as content prepared by XM, such as: opinions, news, research, analyses, prices and other information or links to third-party sites contained on this website are provided on an “as-is” basis, as general market commentary, and do not constitute investment advice. To the extent that any content is construed as investment research, you must note and accept that the content was not intended to and has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and as such, it would be considered as marketing communication under the relevant laws and regulations. Please ensure that you have read and understood our Notification on Non-Independent Investment. Research and Risk Warning concerning the foregoing information, which can be accessed here.

We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our website. Read more or change your cookie settings.

Risk Warning: Your capital is at risk. Leveraged products may not be suitable for everyone. Please consider our Risk Disclosure.