Rai Way investors seek update on mooted TV towers tie-up – sources

By Elvira Pollina

MILAN (Reuters) – A group of investors holding around 10% of Rai Way’sMI> capital has asked for the board of the state-owned Italian TV towers group to provide an update on a long-mooted combination with rival EI Towers to create a national champion, sources said on Friday.

The request was discussed during a teleconference that representatives of the investor group held on Thursday with the chief executive and chairman of Rai Way, the two sources close to the matter told Reuters.

A tie-up has been under consideration for years and it has long been on the radar of the group of both Italian and foreign fund shareholders, which have all been invested in Rai Way since it listed in Milan in 2015.

The group comprises asset managers Amber Capital, Artemis Fund Managers, Azimut, Banca Mediolanum, Kairos and HSBC, one of the sources said. Artemis and Kairos declined to comment, the others did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Addressing the investor request during Thursday’s call, Rai Way Chief Executive Roberto Cecatto and Chairman Giuseppe Pasciucco said they would raise the issue with the company’s board, the people said.

State broadcaster RAI, which is Rai Way’s main shareholder, is fully owned by Italy’s Treasury and any deal needs a government green light.

EI Towers is 40%-owned by MediaForEurope, Italy’s top commercial broadcaster controlled by the family of late media tycoon and political leader Silvio Berlusconi. Italian infrastructure fund F2i holds the remaining 60%.

Fuelling expectations of a possible deal, then Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi approved a decree in 2022 allowing RAI to more than halve its stake in Rai Way to 30% to create a national broadcasting tower leader.

But things have not progressed in any significant way.

Italy’s current conservative government, led by nationalist Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, is reviewing options for Rai Way and has taken no decision so far.

Economy Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti said in July that RAI could sell part of its Rai Way stake to other state-backed firms to fund investments.

Cecatto in November told analysts that the “industrial and financial benefits” of a merger “should be seen as a great opportunity” to create additional value, but the company was performing well and had good prospects regardless.

(Reporting by Elvira Pollina; Additional reporting and writing by Valentina Za; Editing by Keith Weir)