November 20, 2018 / 1:42 PM / 20 days ago

Enel has no plans to exit Open Fiber investment

FILE PHOTO: A Enel Group manhole cover is seen in the street in Perugia, Italy, June 23, 2017. Picture taken June 23, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi/File Photo

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy’s biggest utility Enel (ENEI.MI) has no plans to sell its 50 percent stake in broadband infrastructure company Open Fiber, Enel’s chief executive said on Tuesday.

“It’s doing a great job, we’re very happy with it... we will never exit Open Fiber,” Francesco Starace said at a conference on the group’s new business plan.

Open Fiber, controlled by Enel and state lender CDP, was enlisted two years ago to build a fast fibre network after Rome accused phone incumbent Telecom Italia (TIM) (TLIT.MI) of acting too slowly to upgrade its ageing copper network.

The government is now set to introduce measures to help create a single broadband company that could combine the networks of TIM and Open Fiber.

“Open Fiber has a mission to cable the whole country at competitive costs and fast... anything that makes that easier, we like, anything else we don’t know,” Starace said.

The populist 5-Star Movement, which took office with ruling coalition partner the League in June, has placed the creation of a fast broadband network at the heart of its industrial policy.

CDP, which controls Italy’s gas and power grid networks, also owns just under 5 percent of TIM.

Last week TIM sacked Chief Executive Amos Genish who had said he supported the idea of a merger with Open Fiber provided TIM was in control of the combined network.

Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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