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KKR set for unconditional EU approval to acquire TIM’s fixed-line network

US investment firm KKR, is expected to get unconditional EU antitrust approval to buy Telecom Italia’s fixed-line network after agreeing to keep commercial agreements with TIM rivals, people with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The 22-billion-euro ($23.9 billion) deal is significant as it marks the first time that a big telecoms operator in a major European country is divesting its landline grid, potentially paving the way for others to follow suit.

KKR did not offer remedies on Thursday, the deadline for doing so, according to an update on the European Commission’s website on Friday.

The Commission, which has set a May 30 deadline for its preliminary review of the deal, said its website was up to date on Thursday. KKR declined to comment.

KKR and Telecom Italia’s rivals have been locked in negotiations for some time on maintaining their existing contracts put in place after the creation of FiberCop, Telecom Italia’s last-mile grid unit, on the same terms and prices, the people said.

Agreement on this issue would address EU concerns without the need for KKR to offer remedies, they said, adding that the companies were still in talks to finalise a deal.

TIM’s landline network covers nearly 89% of the country’s households and its fibre and copper cables stretch over 23 million kms (14.3 million miles). The company is selling the grid as part of a government-backed plan to cut debt. Reuters

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