Hutch and VimpelCom close Italy deal

Alan Burkitt-Gray
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Wind and Three Italy have officially merged as from today, with both being owned 50-50 by CK Hutchison and VimpelCom

Italy has made the move from four mobile operators to just three, following today’s completion of the merger of Wind and Three Italia.

Their respective owners, VimpelCom based in the Netherlands and CK Hutchison based in Hong Kong, now jointly own both businesses and will merge them.

Canning Fok, co-managing director of the CK Hutchison group, said: “Today marks a major milestone in the development of Italy’s digital economy.”

VimpelCom CEO Jean-Yves Charlier said: “We are pleased that we can now bring Wind and 3 Italia together to build a world-class 4G/LTE network in Italy.”

The merger has taken more than a year to complete: talks between the companies first came to light in May 2015, and the two had to agree to sell off spectrum and tower access to French company Iliad to persuade the regulators to approve it. Iliad is expected to launch an Italian equivalent of its French operator Free Mobile.

In charge of the new joint venture will be Maximo Ibarra, the current CEO of Wind. Dina Ravera will be merger integration officer and Stefano Invernizzi will be CFO. Vincenzo Novari, the current CEO of 3 Italia, will become special adviser to CK Hutchison.

Fok said the transaction “will bring benefits to businesses and consumers across Italy – through greater reliability, coverage and speed whilst ensuring Italy remains at the cutting-edge of the global digital economy.”

Charlier added: “The merged business, its management team and governance are ready to launch a new era of telecommunications services in Italy. Customers will see real benefits in terms of call quality and strengthened data services as soon as 2017, as the two companies integrate their networks and combine their engineering prowess.”

The combined business will have 31 million mobile customers and 2.7 million fixed line customers. It has a collaboration with Enel Open Fiber to create a converged operator.