September 9, 2019 / 1:49 PM / a month ago

Atlantia falls on fresh doubts over Italy motorway concession

ROME (Reuters) - Shares in Atlantia fell more than 2% on Monday after Italy’s new government left the door open to a possible revocation of the infrastructure group’s lucrative motorway concession.

In his speech on the new administration’s policy agenda, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte vowed to review Atlantia’s concession following the deadly collapse of a bridge last year.

A senior lawmaker from the ruling coalition’s Democratic Party (PD) said an early termination of the concession, which generates a third of Atlantia’s core profit, was still possible.

“There are assessments being made about the concession by the prime minister’s office, and these could go all the way to revoking it,” Graziano Delrio, the PD chief in the lower house, told reporters.

The PD is forming a new government with 5-Star Movement - the anti-establishment party that blamed Atlantia for the collapse of the motorway bridge in Genoa last year and vowed to strip it of its contract to run 3,000 kms of roads across Italy.

Delrio’s comments, and those of some hard-liners in 5-Star, were keeping investors on edge, traders and analysts said.

“I always considered the threat of revoking the concession a tactic to help find an agreement on reviewing the concession,” said Marco Opipari, a financial analyst at broker Fidentiis, adding the new government had not cleared up the regulatory uncertainty hanging over the contract.

In his speech to parliament, Conte never actually mentioned revoking Atlantia’s concession, but said the new administration would protect the public interest in dealing with Atlantia.

“This government will complete the process started following the collapse of the Morandi bridge without showing favor to any particular private interests,” Conte said.

A confidence vote on the new government’s policy plans is due in the lower house of parliament later on Monday, with a vote in the upper house on Tuesday.

The government’s goal is to protect the public interest and, with it, the memory of the 43 victims of the bridge collapse, Conte said.

Atlantia, some of its top managers and some top officials of the transport ministry are under investigation for the disaster.

At 1413 GMT, Atlantia shares were down 2.15%.

Editing by Mark Potter

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