New Autostrade motorway tariff proposal lifts Atlantia shares

FILE PHOTO: General view of an infrastructure group Atlantia's headquarters, in Rome

MILAN (Reuters) – Atlantia shares rose more than 3% on Monday after the infrastructure group’s motorway unit Autostrade per l’Italia put forward a fresh proposal for a new tariff system which analysts said could break a deadlock with Rome.

The move could ease negotiations between Atlantia and a consortium led by Italian state-backed investor Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) over the sale of Atlantia’s 88% stake in Autostrade, analysts said.

A source close to the matter told Reuters on Sunday that Autostrade’s new proposal included all elements requested by Rome and the company had told the government it had accepted a contract also needed to close a long-standing dispute over the 2018 deadly collapse of one of its motorway bridges.

Rome must now review and give final approval to the plan, which sets an average annual rate of growth for tariffs below a 1.75% cap indicated by the transport authority, the source said.

“The implementation of the changes requested by the government in Autostrade’s Economic and Financial Plan would suggest a rapid approval of the same by Rome,” Fidentiis analyst Marco Opipari said in a note.

The bridge disaster killed 43 people and generated a public backlash against Autostrade and the Benetton family, which owns 30% in Atlantia through its holding company Edizione.

Separately, the Benettons said on Sunday they had ousted Gianni Mion as head of Edizione, replacing him with well-connected business professor Enrico Laghi.

Laghi, who once served as temporary administrator for ailing airline Alitalia and has strong links with CDP, could help broker a deal, sources told Reuters.

A deadline for CDP to present a binding offer for Autostrade expires on Nov. 30.

Atlantia shares were up 2.8% at 1005 GMT, outperforming a 0.9% rise in Milan’s blue-chip index.

(Reporting by Francesca Landini; Editing by Alexander Smith)