By Francesca Landini and Stephen Jewkes
MILAN, Oct 19 (Reuters) - Italian state lender CDP was racing against the clock on Monday to agree a proposal with allied investors to buy Atlantia's ATL.MI 88% stake in motorway unit Autostrade per l'Italia, three sources close to the matter said.
Atlantia has adjourned a board meeting started late on Monday to Tuesday as it waits for CDP's plan, Atlantia's sources said.
Infrastructure group Atlantia needs to secure an offer it deems attractive in the coming days or it will have to fall back on its previous plans for its Autostrade stake.
The group has a shareholder meeting scheduled for Oct. 30 and will press ahead with a vote to spin off Autostrade and sell it to institutional investors unless CDP delivers an attractive offer in time, two sources said.
Atlantia has been embroiled in a legal dispute with Rome since 2018, when a bridge run by Autostrade collapsed killing 43 people. The government has threatened to strip it of its motorway licence.
A deal seemed close in July when Rome approved a plan under which Atlantia would cede control of Autostrade to CDP. But talks floundered, prompting the group to press ahead with plans for a demerger.
Then last week, CDP and Atlantia began exclusive talks to try to break the deadlock.
The state lender has since been working flat out on an plan for Autostrade with allied investors Macquarie and Blackstone and could propose it as early as Monday night.
One issue complicating the talks is an ongoing rift between Autostrade and Transport watchdog ART over the company's economic and financial plan, which could impact the future profitability of the company.
According to one of the sources, Autostrade has rejected the latest request by ART to tweak its economic and financial plan.
On Monday activist investor TCI Fund Management, which has criticised the proposed deal with CDP, said it had increased its stake in Atlantia to more than 10%.
(Additional reporting by Stefano Bernabei. Editing by Jane Merriman and Marguerita Choy)
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