CDP-led group sticks to the Autostrade price tag as it runs on a bargain

ROME / MILAN (Reuters) – A consortium led by Italian state lender CDP on Wednesday pledged to make a final offer to buy Atlantia’s 88% stake in a highway company in 10 weeks, while repeating an initial assessment that Atlantia reported as insufficient.

The negotiations are part of a long-standing dispute over Autostrade per l’Italia after a bridge it ran in 2018 collapsed, killing 43 people.

The Italian government has repeatedly threatened to deprive the motorway activity of its operating license, while Atlantia ATL.MI sought to defend a key asset.

In its latest proposal on Wednesday, the CDP said the purchase of Atlantia’s stake in Autostrade would be done in stages and that it would notify Atlantia of the asset valuation four weeks after the start of due diligence. .

The state lender, along with co-investors Macquarie and Blackstone, valued Autostrade as a whole at € 8.5 billion to € 9.5 billion ($ 10 billion to $ 11 billion) in an initial offering, said sources at Reuters.

Atlantia, controlled by the Benetton family, has said it wants a quick deal at a fair price, otherwise it will fall back on previous plans to divest its stake in Autostrade. Atlantia shareholders are meeting on Friday to discuss the spin-off option.

Activist fund TCI and Spinecap fund, two minority investors in Atlantia, claim Autostrade’s value is higher and have both filed a complaint with the European Commission against how the Italian government has handled the problem so far. ‘now.

“We believe 88% (of Autostrade) is worth between 11 and 12 billion euros,” TCI executive Jonathan Amouyal told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Wednesday.

This means that the fund’s valuation for Autostrade as a whole currently differs from that of the CDP-led consortium by around € 4 billion.

Atlantia’s board of directors will meet later Wednesday to consider the latest offering. Last week he said the terms of the preliminary proposal were “not yet compliant and adequate to ensure a fair market valuation of his stake in Autostrade”.

Sources said that Autostrade’s preliminary assessment will also be adjusted to take into account future claims for damages resulting from the bridge disaster and the impact of a less generous tariff system put in place by the Italian authority of the transport.

CDP, which said other Italian investors could participate in the deal, added that it would own 40% of the company bidding for Autostrade, while Macquarie and Blackstone would initially own 30% each.

He said the consortium could buy all of Autostrade if Germany’s minority shareholders Allianz ALVG.DE, EDF Invest, DIF and the Chinese fund Silk Road decide to exercise their right of transfer.

Writing by Francesca Landini; Editing by Tom Brown, Mark Potter and Jan Harvey

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