Italy won't block foreign takeovers: Economy Minister

Sat Sep 7, 2013 12:54pm EDT
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By Lisa Jucca and Luca Trogni

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy has no plans to oppose foreign takeovers of domestic companies, its economy minister said on Saturday, as suitors size up Telecom Italia (TLIT.MI: Quote) and Finmeccanica's SIFI.MI power engineering business.

The defense group is in talks to sell AnsaldoEnergia to South Korea's Doosan Heavy Industries (034020.KS: Quote) while Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris expressed interest in Italy's main telecoms operator ahead of a September 19 board meeting.

"We don't have any strategy to prevent such investments," Fabrizio Saccomanni told Reuters in a television interview, saying the government welcomed foreign investors.

"We don't necessarily have a role to play in single negotiations and I think it should be up to the companies involved to decide on the terms and conditions for foreign takeovers, or something like that."

Sawiris told Reuters earlier on Saturday he might not bid for Telecom Italia, expressing concern about a media report saying the government would favor a merger with Spanish operator Telefonica (TEF.MC: Quote) over any deal with him.

Confirming an earlier timetable, Saccomanni said Italy would present a broad privatization plan by October.

"Our intention is to look at a comprehensive program that includes the ... (sale) of real estate assets but also of financial assets in state-controlled companies," he said.

"We should be able to be able to explain the details of this program in September or October in major financial centers in Europe, the U.S. and the Far East."   Continued...