MILAN. Taking advantage of a substantial stalemate in the discussions between big shareholders and the government, the Americans of Kkr try to get their hands on Tim’s network. After notifying the executive, the fund sent Tim a non-binding offer on the infrastructure. The stock soars on the Stock Exchange: +10 percent.
In the viewfinder
The Tim network had already come under fire at the end of 2021, when Kkr had proposed a takeover bid on the entire company to Tim’s board of directors. Everyone remembers the price: 50.5 cents per share, valuing the whole group at 11 billion, in addition to the debt that they would have taken on in full. But the deal was subject to an audit of the accounts which the company never agreed to. And so it all ended in nothing. However, Kkr remained an interested spectator due to that 37.5% of FiberCop (the company of Tim’s secondary network, the last mile from the road locker to the customer’s home) purchased in April 2021 and paid 1.8 billion with the promise of a guaranteed return of over 9%.
Precisely to protect that investment, Kkr has never remained insensitive to the fate of the network which – two failed memoranda signed between Tim and Cdp – still remains without a script. Fate is sealed: the infrastructure will have to be separated from Tim’s services. The how is yet to be invented. Since December, the Ministry of Enterprise and Made in Italy has been holding a table with the main shareholders of Tim, Vivendi (23.75%) and Cdp (9.8%), but everything is stuck on price differences. For the French, the network is worth at least 31 billion, for Cdp there has always been talk of an estimate not exceeding 19 billion. Hence the stalemate that the government aims to overcome through a plan of incentives for the sector that could move valuations.
However, Kkr was not even invited to that table. And he decided to take action by dissociating himself from the CDP and from what he considers a conflict fraught with Antitrust consequences, an insurmountable obstacle to arriving at a satisfactory solution: the double role of Cassa as partner and claimant of the Tim network as well as the main shareholder, with 60%, of Open Fiber. Kkr, according to unconfirmed rumors, would offer less than 20 billion, some say between 15 and 16 billion. To be understood if with the willingness to take on the additional debt.
The government issue
Small problem: the government, starting with Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, has always spoken of the need for a “national” network “under public control”. For this, apparently, the surprise – and irritation – would have been great in the ministries involved (from the Mimit led by Minister Adolfo Urso to the Technological Innovation department of Palazzo Chigi, which is delegated by Undersecretary Alessio Butti) for the step by Kkr which would have broken the sort of pact that had led to the intervention of the executive and the opening of the tables on which the story of the network and Tim’s rearrangement are discussed.
It seems that the fund’s team led by Alberto Signori has warned the Ministry of the Economy, as a shareholder of the CDP, of its intentions. On the rumors of a preliminary go-ahead from the Mef (which would however clash with the government line, with the position that Giorgetti himself held from the Mise in the previous government when, at the time of the proposed takeover bid by Kkr, he insisted on the need to “protect the assets strategic like the network” and would sound like a disavowal of Dario Scannapieco’s Cdp who is working on his own proposal for the network), however in the evening the rumors prevail according to which there would have been only an acknowledgment from the Mef for an operation. The more sovereign government risks being remembered as the one that gave the former Alitalia to the Germans and the telephone network to the States.
To avert the eventuality, the government has the “golden power” in its drawer, that is, it can unleash those special powers with which the State protects its strategic activities including the network. Unless, over time, it falls within the scope of a larger operation, concerted by the executive and which therefore, in the final analysis, still involves a public entity, the CDP or someone on its behalf.
Now there is expectation for the reaction of the Stock Exchange this morning. The risk is that in some way the script of the public offer of 15 months ago will be repeated, which caused a swing in Tim’s stock in Piazza Affari without then resulting in anything. All on the eve of the industrial plan that Tim’s CEO Pietro Labriola is preparing to present on February 14th.