CDP-led group sticks with Autostrade price tag as works on deal


By Giuseppe Fonte, Stephen Jewkes and Francesca Landini

ROME/MILAN, Oct 28 (Reuters) - A consortium led by Italian state lender CDP pledged on Wednesday to come up with a final offer to buy Atlantia's 88% stake in a motorway business in 10 weeks, while repeating an initial valuation that Atlantia has signalled is insufficient.

The negotiations are part of a long-standing wrangle over Autostrade per l'Italia after a bridge it ran collapsed in 2018, killing 43 people. The Italian government has repeatedly threatened to strip the motorway business of its operating licence, while Atlantia has sought to defend a key asset.

In its latest proposal on Wednesday, CDP said the consortium's stake purchase would be carried out in stages and it would update Atlantia on the valuation four weeks after the start of due diligence.

The state lender, with co-investors Macquarie and Blackstone, valued Autostrade at 8.5-9.5 billion euros ($10-$11 billion) in an initial offer, sources told Reuters.

Atlantia, controlled by the Benetton family, has said it wants a quick deal at a fair price or it will fall back on previous plans to spin-off its Autostrade stake. Atlantia's shareholders meet on Friday to discuss the spin off option.

Activist fund TCI and Spinecap fund, two minority investors in Atlantia, have said Autostrade could be worth 11-12 billion euros.

Atlantia's board will meet later on Wednesday to examine the latest offer. Last week, it said terms in the preliminary proposal were "not yet compliant and suitable for ensuring a fair market valuation of its Autostrade stake".

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

It said the consortium could buy the whole of Autostrade should minority shareholders in the highway company decide to exercise their right to sell shares.

($1 = 0.8461 euros)

(writing by Francesca Landini; editing by Tom Brown and Mark Potter)

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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