The Italian highway company “Autostrade per l Italia” (ASPI) is back under state control. The majority of shareholders in parent company ASPI Atlantia agreed to sell the highway operator to the CDP and its allies on Monday. The conflict, which was sparked by the collapse of the Morandi Bridge in Genoa, ends in 2018 with 43 lives.
Development bank Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), along with Blackstone investment fund and Australian infrastructure investor Macquarie, submitted an ASPI € 9.3 billion bid last month. The show is backed by the Italian government, which has been trying to regain control of the ASPI since the collapse of the bridge in Genoa. Autostrad operators are accused of seriously failing to maintain the bridge, which was rebuilt last year.
Atlantia, which is controlled by the influential Benetton family of businessmen, said in a statement that the offer had been approved by 86 percent of shareholders. The participation rate was 70.4 percent. Atlantia’s Board of Directors will meet on June 10 to present their final evaluation of the proposal.
The offer was approved despite criticism from some shareholders, including the TCI Fund. The fund has repeatedly claimed that the highway company is worth at least 11 billion euros. TCI also supported Spaniard Florentino Perez’s bid to get a rival bid for ASPI through the ACS infrastructure group, but the businessman, who is also president of Real Madrid Football Club, did not have the support of the Italian government.
The German consortium, DIF, EDF Invest and Chinese Silk Road Fund, which owns the remaining 12 percent in ASPI, have the option to sell its shares to the CDP consortium on the same terms.
Atlantia operates more than 5,000 kilometers of highways – mainly in Italy, where the company controls 51 percent of the transportation network – but also in Brazil, India, Chile and Poland. The group has also been active in the aviation sector since 2013 and has stakes in Fiumicino and Ciampino airports in Rome and three others in France.