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Italy government won’t buy stake in Telecom Italia: Sources

MILAN: The Italian government has no intention of buying a stake in Telecom Italia to offset the growing influence of French investors in the phone group, two sources close to the matter said.
However, the government is monitoring the situation at the phone company closely and could decide to use its veto power to safeguard its fixed-line network — Telecom Italia’s most prized asset — if needed, one of the sources said.
Telecom Italia’s biggest shareholder is France’s Vivendi , which has gradually built up a stake of around 20.1% and is now seeking to appoint four of its representatives on its board.
Complicating the picture, French tycoon Xavier Niel, founder of low-cost telecoms group Iliad, has purchased options at the end of October to buy a 15.1% stake in the Italian group.
This has rekindled speculation that the government may buy a stake in Telecom Italia through state holding Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) to counter the weight of the French shareholders.
“CDP is not taking a stake,” one source with direct knowledge of the situation said.

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