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Italy's main telecom unions call for greater state presence in Telecom Italia

Kitco News

ROME, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Italy's main telecom unions on Wednesday called for a greater presence of the state in Telecom Italia (TIM) (TLIT.MI) and for the Italian government to reconsider a plan aimed at creating a single ultra-fast broadband network for the country.

The debt-laden former Italian phone monopoly has received a 10.8 billion euro ($12 billion) approach from U.S. fund KKR (KKR.N) aimed at taking Italy's biggest phone group private. read more

KKR's move is conditional on the government's backing and comes as a boardroom war rages at TIM, whose biggest shareholder is the French media group Vivendi (VIV.PA) with a 24% stake.

Vivendi is pushing for TIM's CEO Luigi Gubitosi to be replaced, sources said, and is digging in after the KKR approach. read more

"We believe that the current majority shareholder (of TIM) has created and fed tensions within the company, aiming at weakening the management over the years. For this reason we keep hoping in a greater presence of the state (in TIM)," SLC-CGIL, FISTel-CISL and UILCOM-UIL said in a statement.

State-owned holding Cassa Depositi Prestiti is TIM's second biggest shareholder with a 10% stake.

The government wants any plans for TIM to be in line with the goal of rapidly completing the rollout of broadband across Italy, supported by adequate investments, and protecting the company's 42,500 workers in the country.

Gubitosi has started looking at ways to squeeze money out of TIM's assets, revisiting in particular a plan to merge TIM's fixed-line grid - its most prized asset - with that of fibre optic rival Open Fiber.

Sponsored by the previous government, that project had run aground under Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

Reporting by Giulia Segreti, editing by Cristina Carlevaro and Louise Heavens
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