Italy's CDP, Macquarie, Blackstone present proposal to buy Atlantia's unit

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy's CDP and investment funds Macquarie and Blackstone have presented a proposal to buy Atlantia's ATL.MI 88% stake in motorway unit Autostrade per l'Italia, the Italian state lender said late on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: A view of the Autostrade per l'Italia headquarters in Rome, Italy, July 21, 2020. REUTERS/Yara Nardi/File Photo

The consortium, which can be broadened to other Italian investors, aims to sign a memorandum of understanding with Atlantia by Oct. 28, CDP said in a statement.

A final offer for Autostrade will be submitted after a 10-week due diligence, the state lender said without giving any other detail on the plan.

Atlantia’s board will review the proposal on Tuesday, sources said earlier on Monday.

Two sources close to the matter told Reuters that the proposal put forward by the CDP-led consortium did not include any valuation for Autostrade, a detail that could jeopardise negotiations between the state lender and Atlantia.

Infrastructure group Atlantia needs to secure an offer it deems attractive in the short-term or it will have to fall back on its previous plans for its Autostrade stake.

The group has a shareholder meeting scheduled for Oct. 30 and will press ahead with a vote to spin off Autostrade and sell it to institutional investors unless CDP delivers an attractive offer in time, two sources had said.

In its proposal, CDP is asking Atlantia to postpone the group’s Oct. 30 shareholders meeting to give more time for negotiations, the state lender said.

Atlantia has been embroiled in a legal dispute with Rome since 2018, when a bridge run by Autostrade collapsed killing 43 people. The government has threatened to strip it of its motorway licence.

A deal seemed close in July when Rome approved a plan under which Atlantia would cede control of Autostrade to CDP. But talks floundered, prompting the group to press ahead with plans for a demerger.

Last week, CDP and Atlantia began exclusive talks to try to break the deadlock.

Another issue complicating the talks is an ongoing rift between Autostrade and transport watchdog ART over the company’s economic and financial plan, which could impact the future profitability of the company.

On Monday activist investor TCI Fund Management, which has criticised the Italian government’s handling of the dispute with Atlantia, said it had increased its stake in Atlantia to more than 10%.

Additional reporting by Giuseppe Fonte. Editing by Jane Merriman and Marguerita Choy