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Italy aims to bring Telecom Italia network under state control

FILE PHOTO: Illustration shows Telecom Italia (TIM) logo

ROME (Reuters) -Italy's new government wants to bring Telecom Italia's (TIM) network under state control to speed up the digitalization of the economy, Industry Minister Adolfo Urso said on Monday.

"We need the network to be under public control," Urso said at a business conference in Rome, dubbing the privatisation of Italy's former phone monopoly in 1997 a "mistake".

The remarks came as Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's right-wing administration reviewed options on how to combine TIM's landline grid with that of smaller rival Open Fiber to create a single national broadband network.

One possibility is the so-called 'Minerva' project, which would involve a takeover bid for TIM by state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), which controls Open Fiber.

An alternative plan, backed by TIM CEO Pietro Labriola, is a spin-off of its network and later merger with Open Fiber via a memorandum of understanding with CDP.

"The government strategy is to have a state-controlled network", and it will decide "with one voice" how to reach this goal, Urso said on the sidelines of the Rome conference.

Last week, Economy Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti urged caution on the Minerva plan, saying it was something that needed to be extensively discussed within the government.

(Reporting by Elvira Pollina and Giuseppe Fonte; Writing by Federico Maccioni; Editing by Alvise Armellini and Jan Harvey)