November 14, 2017 / 3:54 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Italy's Open Fiber set to name new CEO - source

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MILAN, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Italian broadband company Open Fiber is expected to appoint a new chief executive on Wednesday, sources said, as it presses ahead with plans to roll out a rival network to Telecom Italia.

Elisabetta Ripa, who sits on the board of Open Fiber, is expected to replace the group’s current CEO Tommaso Pompei, 75, who was brought in to head Open Fiber as a start up in 2015.

“Open Fiber is expected to call a board meeting tomorrow when the appointment should be formalised,” one of the sources said.

Open Fiber, controlled by utility Enel and state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, is rolling out an ultrafast broadband network to compete with Telecom Italia.

But many industry experts say such costly duplication makes little economic sense, urging a merger of the two.

Ripa, a former head of Telecom Argentina, was CEO of Telecom Italia’s (TIM) strategic submarine cable unit Sparkle.

“She is being appointed because of her experience in the sector,” the second source said, adding she was supported by Enel CEO Francesco Starace.

Enel and CDP declined to comment.

The appointment of Ripa comes at a time when Rome is taking measures to rein in the growing influence of French group Vivendi, which is TIM’s main shareholder.

Vivendi, which also has a significant stake in Italy’s biggest private broadcaster Mediaset, has called TIM’s network strategic and has ruled out any merger with Open Fiber.

Italian politicians have been calling on and off since 2006 for the network to be transferred to a state-controlled entity, like CDP, to ensure a neutral platform open to all phone companies. (Reporting by Stephen Jewkes, editing by Giulia Segreti and Crispian Balmer)

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