Italian utility Enel to buy Telepiu stake

Announcement expected today

ROME — Following weeks of speculation regarding Italian electrical utility Enel’s imminent investment in national paybox Telepiu, the sale of a combined 40% stake in the Canal Plus-controlled division is expected to be announced today.

Enel will likely purchase a 30% interest in Telepiu, reportedly worth $588 million. The deal would mark the second significant foray outside its core business for Enel this year, following the company’s investment in a 51% majority stake in Italian telephone company Wind.

Reports indicate that 5% of Enel’s 30% stake in Telepiu will subsequently be sold to Wind, giving the upstart phone division a foothold for convergent developments between the telephone and interactive television sectors. Stakes in Wind of 24.5% each are held by France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom.

The remaining 10% of Telepiu to be sold reportedly will go to Italian banks Cofiri, San Paolo-IMI and Comit. The 1% stake held by pubcaster RAI is expected to be upped to 2% by the end of the year, when a RAI representative will likely be appointed president of Telepiu.

Canal Plus reduces stake

Since picking up the remaining 10% still held until recently by Silvio Berlusconi’s Fininvest group, Gallic pay TV giant Canal Plus has controlled 99% of Telepiu. If the figures quoted by sources are correct, the company’s stake will be reduced to 58%.

Canal Plus declined to comment on advance reports of the sale Thursday in French daily Le Figaro, while Telepiu has responded by confirming that ongoing negotiations are taking place with Enel, Wind and other potential partners.

However, despite news circulating that the deal will be confirmed today, the Italo paybox did not indicate when an announcement would be made. Telepiu has 1.25 million analog subscribers and 730,000 digital subscribers for its D+ package.

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