Benettons Said to Draw Funds’ Interest for Cellnex Stake
(Bloomberg) -- Italy’s Benetton family has been approached by international funds for its 3.4 billion-euro ($3.85 billion) stake in Cellnex Telecom SA, as the billionaire clan reviews its portfolio amid an ongoing dispute with the government over toll-road concessions.
The Benettons have no plan to sell the holding for now, as the family sees further growth potential, people familiar with the matter said. Group infrastructure company Atlantia SpA has a right of first refusal on the Cellnex stake owned by the Benettons.
Cellnex shares declined 1.2% to 53.2 euros at 9:13 a.m. in Madrid trading, giving the company a market value of about 20.5 billion euros.
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The family’s Edizione holding is weighing options for Atlantia, including transforming the highway and airport operator into a fully fledged infrastructure company, with assets outside the transportation sector, said the people, who asked not to be named discussing confidential deliberations.
In this scenario the Cellnex stake, which the Benettons bought as part of the acquisition of Spain’s Abertis Infraestructuras SA, could potentially be part of a new enlarged Atlantia in the future, the people said.
Representatives for Edizione, Atlantia and Cellnex declined to comment. Edizione owns about 30% of Atlantia and 16.45% of Cellnex.
In recent years Cellnex has transformed itself into Europe’s largest independent wireless towers operator, with an aggressive campaign of external growth led by Chief Executive Officer Tobias Martinez. The company has acquired assets in countries such as Italy, France and Portugal.
The Benettons are facing a watershed moment. In August 2018, a bridge in Genoa managed by the family’s highway unit collapsed, killing 43 people. A few months later Edizione mastermind Gilberto Benetton died.
The family has been under the spotlight, as the leading party in Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s coalition has pushed to revoke its highway unit’s concessions.
Cellnex is now close to passing Atlantia as the biggest holding in the family’s portfolio after shares in the infrastructure company fell by over 40% in the wake of the bridge collapse.
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