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Italo minister aims to stop RAI unit sale

Gasparri's decision voids preliminary agreement

MILAN — Italy’s communications minister, Maurizio Gasparri, said Friday he would veto the sale of a 49% stake in RaiWay, the company that controls the transmission network of pubcaster RAI, to American-backed Crown Castle.

Gasparri’s decision voids the preliminary agreement, announced in April by the RAI board and Crown Castle, in which the U.S. company would have paid $380 million for the acquisition through its U.K. unit.

With its sale RaiWay was to become the first privatized part of the huge state-owned TV group. A sweeping reform of the network was planned by the former left-center government.

After the victory of Silvio Berlusconi’s right-wing coalition in the summer, however, all plans regarding RAI were frozen.

According to Gasparri, the sale of RaiWay had to be blocked because the assets are strategic and the company should remain in public hands.

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