Italy’s Rai to sell minority stake in RaiWay
May 6, 2014
From Branislav Pekic in Rome
The Board of Directors of Italian public broadcaster Rai has given the go-ahead for Director-General Luigi Gubitosi to sell a minority stake in transmission unit and tower operator RaiWay.
Rai is seeking financial partners, primarily banks and investment funds, as well as strategic partners for RaiWay. Rai Way manages over 2,300 transmitter sites across Italy, of which it owns approximately 1,800 towers, and has rights of use of the remaining towers built and mainly owned by local public authorities.
The news comes after commercial broadcaster Mediaset recently earned €300 million from the sale of 25 per cent of its tower operator Ei Towers. Тhere has also been talk of Ei Towers as one of the possible buyers of RaiWay.
This is not the first time there is talk of privatising RaiWay. In 2011, U.S. company Crown Castle evaluated the assets of RaiWay at about €900 million, before the then Minister of Communications stopped the initiative to privatise 49 per cent of the company. According to Mediobanca, RaiWay’s current market value is around €600 million.
The union of Rai workers (Usigrai) has criticised the announced sale, defining it as “unacceptable” and a “strategic error”, pointing out that RaiWay is one of the last strategic assets of the pubcaster.