UPDATE 1-Abertis throws in towel on merger with Atlantia

Tue Jan 29, 2008 1:11pm EST

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MADRID Jan 29 (Reuters) - Spanish infrastructure group Abertis (ABE.MC) said on Tuesday it saw no possibility of merging with Italy's Atlantia (ATL.MI) and would sell its stake in Atlantia's main shareholder Schemaventotto.

Abertis and Atlantia, previously known as Autostrade, announced a plan to merge in April 2006 but the deal was stymied by continual opposition from the Italian government.

After selling its 13.33 percent stake in Schema28, Abertis will continue to hold a 6.67 percent direct stake in Atlantia. Schema28 owns 50.01 percent of Atlantia.

The Spanish road operator said that despite "excellent" relations between the companies and their shareholders, conditions were not right for the deal to go ahead.

"Abertis is keeping its request for the European Commission to reach a decision on the behaviour of the Italian government who, at the time, stopped a European company deal from happening when it had the unanimous backing of the shareholders and the unrestricted authorisation of the European competition authorities," it said in a statement.

Sintonia, a holding company owned by the Benetton family which has a 6 percent in Atlantia, declined to comment.

Insurer Generali (GASI.MI) and bank Unicredit (CRDI.MI) are also shareholders in Atlantia.

(Reporting by Jane Barrett and Elisabeth O'Leary)

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