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By Francesca Landini
MILAN, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Italy will privatise its postal service early in 2015, a Treasury official said on Thursday, trying to reassure investors about the government’s will to carry out an ambitious disposal plan despite having put back the sale of some of its most appealing assets.
“The government is looking to privatise some of Italy’s major companies such as (postal service) Poste and (railways company) Ferrovie Italiane,” said Fabrizio Pagani, head of the office of Italy’s Finance Minister, Pier Carlo Padoan.
“The privatisation of Poste will not happen this year, since we have some regulatory issues to tackle, but it is due early next year,” he added.
The government approved some months ago the sale of a minority stake in the postal service with the aim of cashing in over 4 billion euros ($5.2 billion) by the end of this year.
However, it decided to postpone the sale to better prepare the company, which is wholly owned by Italy’s treasury, for being listed on Milan’s stock exchange.
“Besides big groups, the treasury will also get more involved in the nitty-gritty part of privatisations ... such as the sale of utilities companies and real estate assets,” said Pagani, speaking to an audience of bankers at a business conference.
Many Italian local governments own large stakes or the whole capital of local utilities supplying water, gas and power to citizens.
The treasury is currently pressing the local governments to sell or merge these small utility businesses to make the groups more efficient.
Under the government’s privatisation plan the treasury had hoped to raise about 11 billion euros, equal to 0.7 percent of Italy’s 1.6 trillion euro gross domestic product, every year to 2016 by selling stakes in companies.
But a surge in the volatility of financial markets this summer and the need to prepare state-owned companies for listing delayed some of the biggest disposals, leaving the treasury with almost zero privatisation proceeds so far.
Under the plan, Rome pledged to shed a range of assets varying from stakes in listed companies such as oil and gas major Eni and utility group Enel to minority shareholdings in unlisted companies such as Poste and Ferrovie.
1 US dollar = 0.7757 euro Reporting by Francesca Landini; Editing by Mark Potter