Italian network operator due to formally sign €1.2 billion deal to roll out network in underserved areas in coming weeks

Open Fiber could be heading for the stock market in two years, the Italian company’s MD was quoted by the Italian press as saying this week.

There will be no IPO next year, Open Fiber’s top executive Tommaso Pompei said, in a report by Milano Finanza.

However, "I believe that by the end of 2019 the company will be of a scale to think about a stock market listing," Pompei said, adding that naturally the decision will rest with the company’s shareholders.

Open Fiber is owned by utility company Enel and state-owned lender Casa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP). It is rolling out a high-speed broadband network in Italy alongside its electricity infrastructure.

By the end of this month it will have deployed network in 100 cities in the most profitable areas of Italy.

"As of today, we are working on 20 cities and before the end of September we will add a further 80," Pompei said.

In total, the company plans to address 271 cities areas categorised as A or B, that is, the most profitable.

With regard to the less profitable parts of the country, Open Fiber has won the first two of three government tenders, run by Infratel Italia, to spread high-speed connectivity to so-called white areas, or underserved areas of Italy.

At the end of the month it will be formally awarded the second tender worth €1.2 billion, covering 3,710 Italian municipalities in 10 regions Pompei said. The first tender covered 3,043 municipalities in six regions.

"The first cities in these C and D areas will be activated between the end of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018," Pompei said.

He also reiterated the company’s stance on working with Telecom Italia: it is happy to have the incumbent as a customer, should it so desire.

"The Open Fiber network is democratic and open to all," he said. "My philosophy is always to keep the infrastructure separate from the service provider."