FILE PHOTO: A logo of the Atlantia Group is seen outside their headquarters in Rome, Italy August 31, 2018. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi/File Photo
September 10, 2020
MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s Atlantia <ATL.MI> and state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) are still at loggerheads in talks over the future of the infrastructure group’s tollroad unit Autostrade per l’Italia, three sources close to the matter said on Thursday.
Atlantia, controlled by the Benetton family, agreed in July to pull out of Autostrade following the 2018 collapse of a motorway bridge run by the unit, in which 43 people died.
However, disagreement over a series of issues, including who will handle potential legal claims over the dated motorway network, has stood in the way of a final deal with CDP which is due to take control of Autostrade under a spin-off plan brokered by the Italian government.
One of the sources said talks between the two sides would continue for another week before Atlantia took a decision on how to proceed.
“If there is no agreement then Atlantia will go ahead with the demerger of Autostrade without CDP,” the source said.
Atlantia last week agreed to set up a new company to acquire all or part of Atlantia’s 88% stake in Autostrade ahead of a demerger and stock market listing.
It has been in talks with CDP over a plan that would see the state lender gain control of the new company through a reserved capital increase.
But on Thursday one of the sources said CDP wanted the capital hike to take place in Autostrade and not in the new vehicle, a solution that was opposed by minority shareholders in both Autostrade and Atlantia.
On Saturday Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said talks to reach a deal on Autostrade were in the final strait.
Earlier this year Atlantia asked the European Commission to intervene in the dispute over its motorway concession, accusing the Italian government of breaching EU law.
Two sources said Atlantia, which held a board meeting on Thursday to discuss the situation, had sent a letter to Brussels soliciting a reply to its earlier request.
Atlantia was not available for a comment, while CDP declined to comment.
(Reporting by Francesca Landini and Stephen Jewkes; additional reporting by Giuseppe Fonte and Stefano Bernabei; Editing by Susan Fenton)