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Canal Plus selling 50% of Telepiu

Pact to boost feevee operator

MILAN — A few days after media group Fininvest decided to sell its 10% stake in pay TV operator Telepiu to Canal Plus, the Gallic pay TV giant has reportedly reached an agreement with Italian partners to sell them 50% of the Milan-based company.

According to a report in La Repubblica, Canal Plus (which currently owns 100% of Telepiu) will sell a 30% stake to Italy’s phone company, Wind, a 18% stake to a group that includes three leading Italian banks and 2% to pubcaster RAI, which has an option to buy up to 10% of Telepiu.

Since June, RAI has supplied six theme-based channels to Telepiu’s digital pay TV service, called D+.

The final deal is expected to be inked at the end of the month, the report said. All companies involved in the operation said they preferred not to comment, but many in the media circles believe the press report is reliable.

Wind CEO Tommaso Pompei, a personal friend of RAI director general Pierluigi Celli, who allegedly organized the Telepiu deal, recently said he wanted to invest in the convergence of television and telephony, both on mobile and fixed-line networks, for the development of interactive services.

Strengthening Telepiu

If signed, the Wind-Telepiu-RAI agreement will strengthen Telepiu financially while defusing a politically embarrassing situation in which a foreign company controls 100% of Italy’s dominant pay TV platform.

Deal will also represent a serious threat to struggling Stream, Italy’s second pay TV company, in which Rupert Murdoch bought a 35% stake last spring.

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