October 30, 2018 / 12:17 PM / 21 days ago

UPDATE 2-Italy's GEDI considering buying Telecom Italia unit Persidera - sources

(Recasts lead, adds sources on Telecom Italia board meeting and GEDI)

MILAN, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Italian publisher GEDI is thinking of buying Telecom Italia’s 70 percent stake in Persidera to take full control of the broadcasting unit before selling most of it on, sources close to the matter said on Tuesday.

The publisher, whose main owner is the Italian De Benedetti family, is ready to pay Telecom Italia (TIM) around 170 million euros for its stake, the sources said.

GEDI, which currently holds 30 percent of TIM, could then sell on the unit’s infrastructure assets to communications towers company Rai Way, the sources added.

TIM and GEDI have received two bids for Persidera - from Rai Way and from infrastucture fund I Squared Capital.

I Squared Capital has made an offer of around 240 million euros for the whole of Persidera, while Rai Way’s bid excludes the broadcasting unit’s five multiplexes — bundles of digitised TV services — because it already has five of its own and antitrust rules prevent it from owning more.

Earlier on Tuesday sources said Rai Way had raised its bid for Persidera to around 220 million euros, valuing the whole of the unit at more than 300 million euros.

The sources said GEDI, which cannot stop TIM selling its stake but which has a right of first refusal in case of any disposal, supported the new bid.

But one of the sources said TIM, after a board meeting on Tuesday, was now leaning towards granting preferred bidder status to I Squared, adding that a formal decision was expected in November.

TIM, whose top shareholder is Vivendi, is looking to sell a series of non-core assets, including Persidera, to cut debt and fund the rollout of both ultrafast broadband and a 5G mobile network.

$1 = 0.8811 euros Reporting by Stephen Jewkes, Giancarlo Navach and Agnieszka Flak Editing by Adrian Croft and Gareth Jones

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