MILAN, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Italy’s former telephone monopoly Telecom Italia (TIM) should seek an agreement with Mediaset to combine the telephone company’s distribution network with the broadcaster’s content, an Italian government official told La Stampa newspaper on Sunday.
French media group Vivendi has built up its stake in TIM over time to become its top shareholder with 23.9 percent and became Mediaset’s second-largest stakeholder last year with a 29 percent share.
An agreement between the two Italian companies could bolster their bargaining power with Vivendi, which has drawn fire from the Italian government over its stakes in the businesses.
* “An industrial agreement that allows both companies to grow is desirable,” Italy’s communications undersecretary Antonello Giacomelli told La Stampa without elaborating.
* Giacomelli said he did not agree that TIM’s fixed-line network should be sold, adding that a recent estimate that put its worth at 13 billion euros ($15.29 billion) is too high, given that part of it is obsolete.
* The sale of the fixed-line copper network is in TIM’s interest, not the country’s, Giacomelli said. This clashes with the position of Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan, who said this month that there were advantages to a spin-off. ($1 = 0.8503 euros) (Reporting by Giulia Segreti and Steve Scherer; Editing by David Goodman)