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Rai Way in bid for Telecom Italia DTT towers business

Italian digital-terrestrial TV platform operator Rai Way has teamed up with financial investor F2i Fondi Italiani per le Infrastructture (F2i) to launch a joint bid for Telecom Italia-owned Persidera.

The deal would see F2i hold and manage the rights of use of the spectrum currently granted to Persidera for its DTT multiplexes, while Rai Way would acquire the network infrastructure with the simultaneous signing of a long-term agreement for the supply of broadcasting services.

Persidera owns and operates five DTT multisplexes. Telecom Italia is selling the unit off as part of a move to obtain European competition authorities’ approval for Vivendi’s acquisition of control of the company.

Rai Way has not disclosed financial terms of the bid. Analysts at Berenberg, citing Italian reports that it was under €250 million, noted that this figure is well below the amount Telecom Italia has reportedly been seeking for the unit. Berenberg said that a €250 million deal, valuing Persidera at about six times EBITDA, “would appear at face value to be a very cheap deal” for an infrastructure company with a 50% EBITDA margin.

Berenberg’s analysts said that “the transaction would appear to fit with Rai Way’s objectives of increasing the number of multiplexes it manages” and would make strategic sense.

The structure of the agreement, giving F2i control of the spectrum, is designed to work around Italian regulations that prevent one company from controlling more than five digital-terrestrial multiplexes. Rai Way currently controls five for pubcaster Rai while Persidera owns a further five muxes.