January 12, 2018 / 3:58 PM / a year ago

Telecom Italia pushes back deadline for Persidera bids - sources

MILAN (Reuters) - Telecom Italia (TLIT.MI)(TIM) has pushed back a deadline for binding bids for its broadcasting services unit Persidera to give potential suitors more time to prepare offers, sources close to the matter said.

French media group Vivendi (VIV.PA), TIM’s biggest shareholder, last year agreed to sell TIM’s 70 percent stake in Persidera to win antitrust approval for its own plan to gain de facto control of TIM. Vivendi also owns about 29 percent of Italy’s biggest private broadcaster Mediaset (MS.MI).

“The deadline was Jan. 15 but there has been a postponement of two to three weeks to meet requests from funds,” one of the sources said.

Italian infrastructure fund F2i is expected to make a bid, two sources said, adding that other funds might be interested.

United States-based Discovery Channel, one of Persidera’s main clients, is considering a bid but its interest appears to be cooling.

“The dossier is still on Discovery’s table, but interest is waning,” the sources said.

In October a source close to the matter said that Persidera was valued between 350 million euros (311.79 million pounds) and 400 million euros.

If few bidders emerge, TIM might opt to shelve the process for the time being, one of the sources said on Friday.

Another source said that Italian mast companies EI Towers EIT.MI and Rai Way (RWAY.MI) would not be making offers for antitrust reasons but could forge alliances with F2i or other funds at a later date to manage the assets.

Barclays is advising TIM while Lazard is advising Italian media group GEDI Gruppo Editoriale (GEDI.MI), which owns the other 30 percent.

All the companies involved declined to comment.

Reporting by Giancarlo Navach and Stephen Jewkes; Editing by David Goodman

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