Switzerland’s state telco Swisscom is bidding 3.7 billion euro ($4.87 billion) for Italy’s second-place broadband provider Fastweb, a 19 percent premium to pre-takeover-rumor prices. The Italian firm, which has offered triple-play services for far longer than most other European countries having launched a TV-over-IP service as early as 2005, has previously been circled by other suitors. A number of private equity firms considered buying that same year but more recent interest has waned after Vodafone and Sky Italia pulled away their chequebooks, Reuters reports.
Fastweb’s 13% of the Italian broadband market is second to Telecom Italia’s 80% and comes in part thanks to a marketing tie-up that offers its internet service to Vodafone mobile subscribers. At home, Swisscom has been hit after, just like BT in the UK, it was ordered to open up its telecoms infrastructure to broadband competitors, and by mobile penetration nearing 100%. Expansion to neighboring Italy would give it further market share amongst an internet-savvy consumer base, but Swisscom beware — two years ago, the Swiss government blocked its takeover of Ireland’s Eircom on the basis that overseas acquisitions would stretch it too far from its remit at home.