June 23, 2020 / 4:21 PM / 22 days ago

Benetton holding's 2019 profit falls 70%, will pay no dividend

MILAN (Reuters) - The holding company of the Benetton family, which owns stakes in several companies including Atlantia (ATL.MI) and Autogrill (AGL.MI), reported a sharp fall in 2019 profit, adding it would not pay any dividend on 2019 results.

The family, famous for its retail clothing chain, has been locked in a dispute with the Italian government over the motorway licence of infrastructure group Atlantia since August 2018, when a bridge operated by Atlantia’s unit collapsed.

Last year Atlantia’s motorway unit Autostrade per l’Italia booked a 1.5 billion euro ($1.7 billion) provision linked to the concession dispute, with a negative impact on Edizione’s results, the holding company said on Tuesday.

Edizione, which is owned by the remaining founding members of the family and their heirs, said its net profit fell to 55 million euros last year from 184 million euros in 2018.

Recent acquisitions inflated Edizione’s net debt to 40.5 billion euros, of which 20.5 billion euros pertain to Spanish toll road operator Abertis, which was bought at the end of 2018.

“Edizione will continue to work alongside the companies it is invested in to promote their growth and development, also involving partners who share their strategy and governance,” it said.

Atlantia may sell part of its 88% stake in Autostrade to make space for state-controlled investors as a way to ease the standoff with the government, sources have said.

The infrastructure group is currently in talks with suitors on the potential sale of 49% of its digital toll payments unit Telepass.

Reporting by Francesca Landini; editing by David Evans

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