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TIM to seek new round of higher bids for landline grid - sources

Illustration shows Telecom Italia (TIM) logo

MILAN (Reuters) -Telecom Italia (TIM)'s CEO Pietro Labriola is expected to propose to directors to seek further improvements of multi-billion bids for the company's landline grid at a board meeting on May 4, two sources familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The sale of TIM's landline grid and submarine cable unit Sparkle is a key plank of Labriola's s plan to slash the group's 25 billion euro ($27.6 billion) debt and revive the former phone monopoly's domestic business, under pressure for years due to stiff price competition.

Rival suitors KKR and a consortium comprising Italian state lender CDP and Macquarie have offered 21 billion euros and 19.3 billion euros respectively, sources have said, each raising their initial offers by 1 billion euros.

Both bids did not come close to the 31 billion euros requested for the asset by TIM's top investor Vivendi, and also fell short of TIM's expectations, sources have said.

French media giant Vivendi, which owns a 23.8% stake in TIM, in recent weeks has been piling pressure on Labriola and other managers to draw a line under the ongoing bidding process, given a too large valuation gap and concerns over the sustainability of TIM's remaining service business.

($1 = 0.9056 euros)

(Reporting by Milan newsroom; writing by Giulio Piovaccari, editing by Alvise Armellini and Louise Heavens)