LONDON/MILAN (Reuters) - A consortium led by French private equity firm Ardian is nearing a deal with Telecom Italia (TLIT.MI) to buy part of the former phone monopoly’s stake in mobile tower group INWIT (INWT.MI), three sources told Reuters on Wednesday.
The deal highlights appetite for tower assets providing steady returns to investors at a time of uncertainty due to the coronavirus emergency.
TIM, which owns 33.2% of INWIT, is set to transfer its stake in the mobile tower group to a holding company and sell just under 50% of that to an Ardian-led consortium, the sources said.
The deal, which will see Canson Capital Partners investing alongside Ardian, could be announced as early as next week, the sources said.
One of the sources said the parties, which have been in exclusive talks for nearly a month, were working to sign the deal next week and close it in late June or early July.
TIM, Ardian and Canson all declined to comment.
The transaction will help TIM, which jointly controls INWIT with rival Vodafone (VOD.L), to cut its debt excluding leases to 17.7 billion euros ($20.1 billion) from 21.7 billion at the end of March..
Telecom Italia shares and INWIT shares were up 3.36% and 1.8% respectively by 1130 GMT, against a 0.9% drop in Italy's all-share index .FTITLMS
Reporting by Pamela Barbaglia in London, Elvira Pollina and Elisa Anzolin in Milan; Editing by Louise Heavens and Jan Harvey