Italian state broadcaster RAI said it plans to sell a stake of up to 15 percent in its TV tower company Rai Way.

Such a deal could leave the possibility of a long-awaited merger between the unit and rival EI Towers open.

Telecom towers Italy
– Getty Images

RAI, which currently owns a 65 percent stake in Rai Way, will retain a majority stake if the plans go ahead, adding it would remain "open to assess further opportunities to develop Rai Way's business."

The move could raise funds for RAI's new three-year business plan.

This week, the Board of Directors at RAI approved the 2024-26 Industrial Plan, illustrated by the CEO Roberto Sergio, and gave the green light to the 2024 budget.

The plan, which is worth €225 million ($245m), prioritizes digital transformation to ensure financial sustainability.

RAI first suggested it may sell some of its stake back in December, but drew criticism from a group of minority investors in Rai Way, including investment firms Amber Capital and Artemis.

The shareholders said the stake disposal would result in less value for Rai Way's investors than a merger with EI Towers.

In March 2022, former Prime Minister Draghi approved a decree allowing RAI to cut the stake in Rai Way to 30 percent from the current 65 percent. It was a move that was expected to trigger consolidation in the television and radio mast sector.

However, Economy Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti, who served as industry minister under Draghi, publicly criticized the scheme as he felt that RAI should not have control of the group stemming from the merger.

Founded in 1924, RAI is one of the biggest broadcasters in Italy and operates many terrestrial and subscription television channels and radio stations.

EI Towers is 40 percent owned by Italy's top commercial broadcaster MediaForEurope (MFE), while Italian infrastructure fund F2i holds the remaining 60 percent.