Italy Decides Against Speeding Up Autostrade Revocation

(Bloomberg) -- Italy will follow standard procedures for revoking the highway concession held by Atlantia SpA’s Autostrade unit and won’t speed things up at a Cabinet meeting focused on the Genoa bridge disaster, people familiar with the matter said.

The highway bridge collapse a month ago killed 43 people, leading to enormous pressure to sanction Autostrade. The government talks on Thursday will discuss reconstruction efforts.

Italy will pursue the normal procedure to revoke the concession that was started in August with a dispute letter to the company, said the people, one of whom is a government official, who asked not to be named. That process is expected to last several months, one of the people said.

Highway concession holders will also be forced to conduct wide-ranging safety checks on the bridges and roads they manage, according to the official familiar with the matter.

The government is seeking to assign the contract to rebuild the Genoa bridge to a state-controlled company without a tender process, Transportation Minister Danilo Toninelli told lawmakers earlier this week.

Toninelli and Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio, who’s head of Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement, have been threatening toll-road nationalization since the Aug. 14 bridge collapse. Di Maio’s coalition partners from the League party have been less strident, with Cabinet Undersecretary Giancarlo Giorgetti saying state management of highways is not necessarily more efficient.

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