Italy's Atlantia buys stake in Eurotunnel operator Getlink

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy's Atlantia ATL.MI said on Friday it bought for over 1 billion euros (891.85 million pounds) a 15.49 percent stake in France's Getlink GETP.PA, becoming the top investor in the operator of the tunnel between Britain and Continental Europe.

With the deal the motorway and airport operator, which is competing with Hochtief HOTG.DE to win control of Spain's Abertis ABE.MC, acquired 26.66 percent of the voting rights in the French company.

Atlantia said in a statement it paid 12.40 euros for each Getlink share. It bought the group from an investment vehicle controlled by funds managed by Goldman Sachs Infrastructure Partners.

In a separate release, the Rome-based group said core earnings rose 6 percent last year on a like-for-like basis to 3.664 billion euros.

Getlink shares were up 16 percent after the deal was announced.

Reporting by Francesca Landini