State lender CDP could tie-up with TIM, Leonardo for Italian cloud project - sources

MILAN, June 30 (Reuters) - Italian state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) is considering an alliance with Telecom Italia and defence group Leonardo in the race to create a national cloud hub, three sources familiar with the matter said.

Part of EU-funded projects to help Italy’s economy recover from the pandemic, the national cloud hub is aimed at upgrading the country’s digital infrastructure.

Innovation Minister Vittorio Colao, a former head of telecom giant Vodafone, has said he wants to ensure data is safely hosted, as most of the country’s data facilities fall short of security standards.

Overseas big tech firms could be involved in the project, while making sure the most sensitive data is stored locally and managed by a company under Italian law and under state control, Colao has said.

In the Recovery Plan sent to Brussels in April to access EU funds, Rome earmarked 900 million euros ($1.1 billion) to fund the national cloud hub, dubbed Polo Strategico Nazionale, according to sources and documents seen by Reuters.

The documents show the initiative will be structured as a public-private partnership.

Interested parties are expected to present their preliminary proposals in the next few days to the innovation ministry and a tender will be launched, government officials said.

A deal between CDP, Leonardo and Telecom Italia has not been finalised, the sources said. Other potential options could be considered, one of them added.

U.S. tech giants such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon, which dominate the data storage industry, could provide their cloud technology to the national cloud hub, if licensed to companies taking part in the hub project, officials have said.

Such a structure would be aimed at soothing concerns over the risk of U.S. surveillance in the wake of the adoption of the U.S. CLOUD Act of 2018 - which can require U.S-based tech firms to provide data to Washington even if it is stored abroad.

The venture would include four data centres that would house data and applications of some 190 public administrations not complying with minimum security and performance requirements, the documents sent to Brussels show.

$1 = 0.8410 euros Reporting by Elvira Pollina, Giuseppe Fonte and Francesca Landini Editing by Mark Potter