ROME -- In a drive to reduce debt, Italy will sell stakes in eight companies including energy giant Eni in a "first packet of privatisations", Prime Minister Enrico Letta said on Thursday.
The state plans to sell up to 3% of its stake in Eni, worth two billion euros, while keeping at least 30% of the company.
The sales are expected to raise some 12 billion euros (US$16.1 billion).
Other companies involved in the privatisation drive include shipbuilder Fincantieri, STMicroelectronics and Grandi Stazioni, a member of Italy's railways group, Letta said.
The government will cede 60% of its stake in export credit agency Sace and Grandi Stazioni, and 40% of Fincantieri and air traffic controller Enav.
The sales are "a first move" towards cutting Italy's vast public debt -- which stands at around 133% of gross domestic product (GDP) -- "for the first time in five years", Letta said following a cabinet meeting.
The privatization was key to "convincing the European Commission to provide extra margins of flexibility for 2014" in terms of investments, he said.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013