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Italy's Eni mulls sale of newswire AGI amid conflict of interest row

Abu Dhabi International Progressive Energy Congress (ADIPEC)

MILAN (Reuters) - Eni is evaluating an expression of interest for its newswire Agenzia Giornalistica Italia (AGI), a spokesperson for the energy group said on Tuesday, adding the discussion was preliminary and non-exclusive.

The possible sale of Italy's second largest news agency to a lawmaker from the rightwing, co-ruling League party, has been widely reported in Italian media in recent weeks, triggering opposition's alarm over a potential conflict of interest.

State-controlled Eni, which has owned AGI since 1965, is ready to consider any other expressions of interest that may come, the spokesperson added.

Italian newspaper La Stampa reported last month that Antonio Angelucci - an healthcare entreprenuer who owns rightist newspapers Libero, Il Giornale and Il Tempo - was in negotiations to buy the newswire for around 40 million euros ($43 million).

Publishing group Mondadori Editori could also be interested, other media reported.

Angelucci did not respond to a Reuters' email asking for comment. Mondadori said it declined to comment on media speculation.

Workers at AGI, which employs around 70 journalists, plan to strike on Wednesday and demonstrate in Rome against the potential sale of the newswire and a lack of transparency over the negotiations.

The workers said in a statement they were ready to hold further strikes in future if their requests are not met.

($1 = 0.9287 euros)

(Reporting by Gianluca Semeraro, Francesca Landini and Claudia Cristoferi, editing by Gavin Jones)