Italy takes back motorways as Atlantia investors approve sale By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of Italian infrastructure group Atlantia is seen outside its headquarters in Rome, Italy, October 5, 2020. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane/File Photo

By Francesca Landini and Stephen Jewkes

MILAN (Reuters) – A large majority of Atlantia’s investors on Monday backed the sale of the group’s stake in its motorway unit to Italian state lender CDP and allies, drawing a line under a dispute triggered by a deadly bridge collapse in 2018.

Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), together with Blackstone (NYSE:) and Macquarie, put forward an offer last month valuing Atlantia’s Autostrade per l’Italia unit at 9.3 billion euros ($11 billion).

The proposal is backed by the government, which has been seeking to regain control of Autostrade ever since a bridge run by the toll-road company in the port city of Genoa gave way and killed 43 people on Aug. 14, 2018.

Atlantia, controlled by the powerful Benetton family, said in a statement the offer won 86.86% support in a shareholder vote, adding turnout was 70.4%.

The outcome confirms what sources had told Reuters.

Investor advisers Glass Lewis, ISS and Frontis Governance all recommended Atlantia’s shareholders give their go-ahead to the sale of the infrastructure group’s 88% stake in Autostrade to the CDP consortium.

Atlantia is now expected to summon a board meeting on June 10 to rubber stamp its investors’ decision. The sale will free up capital and management time for the group to pursue new initiatives after nearly three years of impasse.

The transaction was approved despite opposition from some shareholders, including TCI. The activist fund has said Autostrade is worth at least 11 billion euros.

TCI had backed an attempt by Spain’s Florentino Perez to study a rival offer for Autostrade through infrastructure group ACS, but the entrepreneur – who is president of soccer club Real Madrid – did not win the support of the Italian government to move ahead with a binding bid.

Germany’s Allianz (DE:) and funds DIF, EDF (PA:) Invest and China’s Silk Road Fund, which own the remaining 12% of Autostrade, have an option to sell their stakes to the CDP consortium under the same conditions.

Atlantia shares were up 3.2% at 1350 GMT, outperforming a 0.3% rise in Milan’s blue chip index.

($1 = 0.8203 euros)

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