Italy Says Autostrade Failed in Deadly Genoa Bridge Disaster

(Bloomberg) -- Atlantia SpA’s Autostrade per l’Italia unit failed to take sufficient safety measures to prevent the deadly collapse of a highway bridge in Genoa in August, the Ministry of Transport said.

Measures adopted by Autostrade to prevent a collapse were “inappropriate and insufficient considering the gravity of the problem,” the ministry’s inspection committee found after a review, according to a statement.

The findings may bolster calls to take away Autostrade’s concession to operate highways in Italy, while politicians including Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio have been threatening to nationalize the country’s toll roads since the collapse. The Aug. 14 disaster killed 43 people and severely interrupted transportation in the Genoa area.

Autostrade responded with its own statement saying the ministry’s findings are a “mere hypothesis” which is yet to be proved. “The review does not take into account the elements provided by the company,” Autostrade said.

While Autostrade was able to track the bridge’s condition over time, their information included “obvious uncertainties,” according to the ministry.

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

Shares of Atlantia, whose biggest shareholder is Italy’s Benetton family, pared losses after dropping as much as 2.5 percent on Tuesday, and closed the session nearly unchanged. The stock has dropped 26 percent since the day before the collapse.

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