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The Benettons reject the offer for the sale of Autostrade

Too little to say yes. Yes to the sale of Autostrade to Cassa Depositi e Prestiti and to the Blackstone and Macquarie funds. A yes that would have handed over to the Draghi government not only a company with 51% in the hands of Cdp, but also a political collection and that is the closure of an affair opened by Conte 1 on 15 August 2018, following the collapse of the Morandi bridge in Genoa. But the Benettons and the other shareholders of Atlantia (the parent company of Autostrade) said no. No to the offer that put up to 7.9 billion on the plate to acquire 88% of Autostrade. Up to 7.9 billion because inside there are 1.5 billion dancing and that Atlantia risks paying out to pay the compensation related to the ongoing lawsuits for the collapse of the Genoese viaduct. This is also why the proposal was rejected.

The games are far from closed. The decision of the board of directors of Atlantia to call a meeting to postpone the terms of the alternative route, that of the demerger, to 31 July is a clear sign of opening to Cassa Depositi e Prestiti. It means that you can still negotiate on the main counter, that of the direct offer. And it is no coincidence that the board of Atlantia itself has mandated the chairman and the chief executive officer to verify “the possibility of introducing the necessary substantial improvements to the offer”. The offer can only change if you continue to talk to the other party and this will happen in the next few days.

And the extension of the negotiation says two things. The first is that there is still no solution. Two and a half years after the promise made by Giuseppe Conte in Genoa, that of removing the motorways from the Benettons. But even seven months after that 14 July in which the same premier, this time at the helm of the Giallorossi government, announced together with the 5 stars that the games were closed, complete with an agreement with the same Benettons. The industrial operation, however, was only on paper. The Cassa has tried to build it from July to today, flanked by the Ministry of Transport which oversaw the other leg of the agreement with Atlantia, namely the new economic-financial plan, with tariffs, investments and remuneration inside. In the meantime, however, the game has changed and we have moved from Cdp’s entry into Autostrade’s capital to offering. Breaking the taboo of “never a euro at Benettons”. Three days ago, on February 23, a binding offer was submitted. But Atlantia said no: “Too less than expected”.

Atlantia’s opposition to the money put on the plate by the consortium led by CDP is in the size of the offer itself. The valuation of Autostrade made by the Cassa and the funds is 9.1 billion. There is also the option to buy 100% of the company (in case the minority shareholders who hold 12% want to do so), but the main choice is to buy 88%. So the money that would go to Atlantia would be 7.9 billion. But within these 7.9 billion there are 1.5 billion that the buyers are asking to be used to cover the expenses and compensation related to the process underway in Genoa for the collapse of the bridge and other aspects related to the issue of the safety of the motorway network . In this way, Atlantia’s revenues could drop to 6.4 billion. However, some shareholders have something else in mind. The Tci and Spinecap funds believe that Autostrade is worth between 11 and 14 billion. Distances are relevant.

The negotiations will go on, but it will be necessary to understand if the new government will give different indications or not. Matteo Salvini is already on the barricades: “Atlantia and Autostrade: today yet another black smoke, no more time can be wasted. There are thousands of jobs at risk, over 3,000 hires and 20 billion in firm investments. The new government must accelerate and find a useful solution for the country, leaving aside prejudices and ideology: we need to start again with maintenance, investments and hiring ″. And even the 5 stars play a fundamental game. They had already taken for granted “the return of the highways to the Italians”. The Benetton no is there to say that the games are more than open.

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