Macquarie raising hurdles to CDP joining KKR bid for Telecom Italia grid, sources say
By Elvira Pollina and Giuseppe Fonte
MILAN (Reuters) -Australian fund Macquarie is raising legal hurdles over a plan backed by Italy’s Treasury for state lender CDP to join forces with U.S. fund KKR in a deal to buy Telecom Italia’s landline grid (TIM), three sources said on Monday.
TIM directors have set a final deadline of June 9 for potential improved offers by the U.S. private equity firm and a rival consortium comprising CDP and Macquarie, worth 21 billion euros ($23.1 billion) and 19.3 billion euros respectively.
Telecom Italia has deemed both inadequate.
People familiar with the matter told Reuters this month the Treasury would welcome CDP joining forces with KKR for TIM’s prized grid, with one source saying the ministry was pushing for CDP to drop its separate proposal.
But Macquarie is now raising legal issues about a possible alliance between CDP and KKR, three sources close to the matter told Reuters on Monday.
CDP and Macquarie are co-investors in Open Fiber, a smaller rival to TIM.
According to the sources, some clauses included in the Open Fiber shareholder pact could give the Australian fund some leeway to complicate any CDP decision to drop the alliance with Macquarie and join KKR’s proposal.
One of them said Macquarie was aiming to improve its offer with CDP ahead of the June 9 deadline.
A source close to CDP said the state lender was still working with Macquarie to respond to some clarifications Telecom Italia had requested over its latest offer, adding no decision has been taken yet.
Separate sources with knowledge of the matter had said this month KKR had expressed its willingness to work further on its bid.
The sale of TIM’s most valuable asset is the main option for the phone group to cut its cash-bleeding company’s 26 billion euro debt pile.
Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s administration will a have a say on any deal as Rome can use its so-called “golden power” regulation to set conditions or block attempts to take over strategic assets such as TIM’s network.
($1 = 0.9084 euros)
(Reporting by Elvira Pollina in Milan and Giuseppe Fonte in Rome; Editing by Alison Williams)