Atlantia extends deadline for offers on motorway assets to mid-December

FILE PHOTO: The logo of an infrastructure group Atlantia is seen outside their headquarters, in Rome, Italy October 5, 2020. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane/File Photo

MILAN (Reuters) - Italian infrastructure group Atlantia said on Wednesday it would hold a board meeting by mid-December to examine potential offers for its motorway unit Autostrade per l’Italia and call a shareholders’ meeting on the demerger of the unit.

This would give more time to state-backed lender CDP and its co-investors to present a binding offer for Autostrade after they told Atlantia earlier this week they were not ready to bid.

But it was not clear whether the consortium led by CDP would be able to finalise a binding proposal by the new time limit after a deadline on Nov. 30 came and went.

Last month, the consortium had asked for a 10-week due diligence on Autostrade, which will end in early January.

Atlantia and CDP have been in talks over Autostrade since July but reaching an agreement has proven complicated so far.

The sale of the motorway unit to CDP is aimed at settling a feud between the infrastructure group, the Benetton family - Atlantia’s key investor - and the Italian government originated by the 2018 deadly collapse of a bridge operated by Autostrade.

Atlantia and the consortium are divided over the value of Autostrade and the group asked for an improved offer last month after CDP presented a preliminary proposal that valued the entire motorway company at 8.5-9.5 billion euros.

According to two sources with knowledge of the matter, in the last few weeks CDP and its co-investors have grown even more cautious on Autostrade after developments in a probe over alleged mismanagement by former Autostrade’s executives.

If no deal is reached with the CDP-led consortium, Atlantia could revert to an alternative plan to spin off and sell or list its motorway assets. The group will hold a shareholders’ meeting by Jan. 15 and could ask investor to approve a demerger of its motorway assets.

Reporting by Francesca Landini; editing by Giulio Piovaccari and Tom Brown