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With Enel in talks to sell its Open Fiber stake to Macquarie, the government has sent the former a letter urging them to allow CDP, the majority state-owned bank, to retain majority control

Italian utility company Enel is currently under pressure from the Italian government to not sell its entire 50% stake of Open Fiber to Australia’s Macquarie, for fears that it would interfere with plans to create a single national fibre network. 

Back in September, after months of badgering by the government, TIM finally agreed to the creation of a national fibre network through the merger of its ‘last mile’ network with that of rival Open Fiber. The government hope the move will allow the country to more quickly reach national rollout targets and avoid unnecessary duplication when it comes to infrastructure deployment. However, detractors say that the plan will give TIM too much power over the market, effectively recreating a fibre monopoly that previously took many years to dismantle. 
 
At around the time of the announcement of this proposed merger, utility company Enel received a binding bid from Australian telco Macquarie for all or part of its 50% stake in Open Fiber, which Macquarie values at around $8.3 billion.
 
The other 50% of Open Fiber is owned by the majority state-owned investment bank Cassa Depositi e Prestiti SpA (CDP).
 
Now, the Italian government has seemingly sent a letter to Enel, reminding them of the importance of the rapid creation of the national broadband network and urging them not to sell the full 50% stake to Macquarie. Instead, CDP wants to increase its own shares in Open Fiber to 60%, leaving Macquarie the option to purchase the remaining 40%.
 
Furthermore, the government wants Enel to ensure that the conditions of Macquarie’s bid do not run counter to the government’s plans for a single national broadband network. Enel, notably, did not sign off on the Memorandum of Understanding signed by TIM and CDP for the creation of the single network back in August.
 
“The terms of any sale must fit in with the government blueprint for creating a single network,” said an anonymous source speaking to Reuters.
 
The letter was reportedly read to Enel’s board members yesterday as they approved the company’s new business plan.
 
Earlier today, Enel unveiled its new strategy for the period 2021–2030, including a €160 billion investment in clean energy over the period. 
 
 
How will the creation of a single national network affect the Italian broadband market? Find out from the experts at this year’s virtual Connected Italy 
 
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