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Report: Italy stalls sale of shares in ENAV, ENI to Cassa depositi e prestiti

The Italian government put on hold a plan to sell stakes in air traffic controller ENAV SpA and energy firm Eni SpA to public lender Cassa depositi e prestiti SpA after European authorities cast doubt on whether it should be transferring assets to state-controlled companies, Reuters reported Dec. 11, citing Italian government sources.

The country's treasury in November started the process of off-loading shares in the two companies under a privatization program geared toward reducing the country's debt-to-GDP ratio, which at 131.6% is the second-highest in the eurozone. The treasury aims to sell 50.37% of ENAV and a majority of its 4.34% stake in ENI, earning up to €3 billion.

However, statistics agency Eurostat has questioned the sale as CDP is a publicly owned company, even though its assets are not part of the public accounts, the sources told the newswire. Eurostat and the treasury have been in informal talks about the transaction, the sources added, noting that Banca D'Italia SpA is of the opinion that the deal does not clean up the country's public debt.

The statistics agency could also count all of CDP's liabilities when auditing Italy's public debt, Reuters noted.