Another day, another story about Telecom Italia's machinations as it attempts to pin down a strategy that will secure its future as a competitive telecoms operator.
Latest reports suggest that the Italian operator has started talks with banks to raise around €3 billion (US$3.3 billion) in partly state-backed financing.
Citing unidentified sources, Reuters said TIM is talking to UniCredit BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole and Santander over a deal to secure a credit line. The operator is also said to be in talks with Italy's export insurer SACE on guarantees for up to 80% of the funding.
The report has not been confirmed, but TIM certainly needs funding like Italians need their daily shot of extremely strong coffee. As Reuters remarked, the operator has total gross debt of more than €30 billion ($32.4 billion) and faces some big payments this year, such as €1.7 billion ($1.84 billion) for 5G spectrum.
To be sure, TIM CEO Pietro Labriola has his hands full right now. As well as pursuing a plan to separate the Italian operator into two units by splitting infrastructure assets from services operations, TIM's management is grappling with offers from investors such as KKR (for the whole of the operator) and CVC (for enterprise services).
In addition, the French Iliad group reportedly expressed interest in a consumer services business that would emerge following a split. While all this was going on, TIM started negotiations over a potential merger of its fixed network assets with those of state-backed Open Fiber.
What's more, TIM has been engaged in both buying and selling assets in recent weeks.
For example, it reached an agreement with investor Ardian on the sale of most of its shares in tower company Infrastrutture Wireless Italiane (INWIT) for about €1.3 billion ($1.4 billion). Ardian is buying an additional 41% stake in the jointly owned holding company Daphne 3, which in turn holds a 30.2% stake in INWIT. Ardian will then hold a 90% stake in Daphne 3.
In addition, the planned acquisition of mobile assets belonging to Brazil's Oi by Telecom Italia's Brazilian subsidiary TIM SA, Telefônica Brasil (Vivo) and Claro Americas, the Brazilian operation owned by América Móvil, was finally completed as expected this week.
- Oi mobile biz sale nears completion
- Eurobites: TIM/KKR deal off – for now
- TIM and KKR lock horns over due diligence
- TIM's enterprise unit attracts investor interest
— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading