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RAI banking on flotation

Treasury hoping to issue shares worth E1 billion

ROME — Italo pubcaster RAI has picked Rothschild investment bank as adviser in the first step of its hotly contested partial privatization and international flotation plan, execs said Monday.

Rothschild and Italo bank UniCredit will be in charge of the preparatory work — including RAI’s evaluation and due diligence — for the planned IPO of 20%-25% of the mammoth three-channel pubcaster by spring.

Italy’s Treasury Ministry is hoping to issue RAI shares worth roughly E1 billion ($1.32 billion).

Meanwhile, the country’s antitrust watchdog has recommended that RAI be split into two — a public-service side financed by the TV tax levied on Italian households and a commercial company financed by advertising and private investors, if the flotation flies.

The more concrete prospect of a RAI flotation has raised cries from the center-left opposition, which is calling for the pubcaster’s managing director, Flavio Cattaneo, to step down and for RAI to heed the antitrust authority’s call for division.

Cattaneo has said he will forge ahead with his plan, in accordance with Italy’s recently passed media law.

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