Italy State Lender Set to Sweeten Bid for Benettons’ Autostrade

Italy’s state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti SpA is set to present a sweetened offer for Autostrade per l’Italia SpA, in an effort to break a two-year impasse over the Benetton family-controlled highway management company.

The board of Cassa Depositi, or CDP, will meet Tuesday to discuss a revised offer from an investor group that also includes funds Macquarie Group Ltd. and Blackstone Group Inc., according to people familiar with the matter. The CDP-led group is bidding for the 88% of Autostrade held by the billionaire family’s Atlantia SpA.

Atlantia’s board is due to meet Wednesday to discuss the improved bid, the people familiar said.

Atlantia rejected an earlier, non-binding bid, arguing the offer did not reflect the unit’s fair value. That bid valued the stake at 8.5 billion to 9.5 billion euros ($11.2 billion) excluding legal claims, the people said. Discussions are continuing toward a final decision on the price for the new offer, they said.

A spokesman for Cassa Depositi declined to comment. A spokesman for Atlantia also declined to comment.

Though the Benettons agreed to cede control of the highway company to investors led by CDP in July, the two sides have so far failed to reach a final deal amid differences over the value of the assets and legal questions.

Lawmakers from Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s coalition have periodically threatened to scrap Autostrade’s contract to manage most of Italy’s toll highways if a deal isn’t reached. Rome and the Benettons have tussled over the highway unit since the 2018 collapse of a bridge in Genoa on a section of road it managed.

Autostrade generates more than 2 billion euros in annual operating profit.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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