MILAN (Reuters) - Telecom Italia and Vodafone said on Thursday they plan to enter into a new infrastructure sharing partnership to enable faster deployment of fifth-generation mobile phone services over a wider geographic area and at a lower cost.
In addition, they also plan to evaluate combining their 22,000 telecom towers in Italy into a single entity, potentially merging Vodafone's tower infrastructure with that of INWIT, the masts group 60-percent owned by Telecom Italia.
Such combination would be structured in a way to be value accretive to all parties involved, Vodafone and Telecom Italia (TIM) said in a joint statement.
The potential combination would leave both parties with equal shareholdings and governance rights in INWIT, and ensure there is no obligation for either to launch a tender offer for INWIT's remaining shares.
The two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding and have entered into an exclusivity agreement. They aim to conclude one or more of the planned initiatives in the course of this year.
(Reporting by Agnieszka Flak, editing by Silvia Aloisi)