August 28, 2018 / 5:03 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Italy's Autostrade was planning a cut in investment returns

(Recasts lead, adds SIAS concession, background)

MILAN, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Toll-road operator Autostrade per l’Italia, facing accusations of profiteering from Italy’s ruling coalition after a bridge collapse this month, said it had already proposed a cut to its expected return on investment prior to the incident.

More than 40 people were killed when a bridge on the A10 motorway linking Genoa and the French border collapsed on Aug. 14. The coalition has since blamed Autostrade for serious oversights and launched a formal procedure to revoke its concessions.

The government has accused Autostrade of reaping rich rewards from running its 3,000-kilometre network. On Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said the group had benefited from “excessive” guaranteed returns for years.

However Autostrade, 88 percent owned by Benetton-controlled Atlantia, said on Tuesday that in its 2018-2022 financial plan it had proposed to reduce its gross return on investments to 7.30 percent, from 10.21 percent in 2013-2017.

That would have been equivalent to a cut in the net return on investments to 5.0 percent from 6.85 percent.

On Monday, Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli said Rome was asking for all motorway concessions to be reviewed to determine whether to nationalise some of them or renegotiate contracts.

According to documents published on Tuesday by the Transport Ministry, smaller toll-road operator SIAS had a gross return of 10.52 percent on its part of the Turin-Trieste motorway. The net return was 7.16 percent.

Earlier this month investment fund Ardian agreed to pay 850 million euros to create a strategic partnership with Italy’s Gavio group to support growth at SIAS. (Reporting by Francesca Landini and Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Jan Harvey)

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