MILAN (Reuters) – Atlantia agreed to extend talks with a consortium led by state lender CDP regarding the sale of its 88% stake in highway unit Autostrade per l’Italia until March 27, the Italian infrastructure group said on Tuesday.
CDP, along with co-investors Macquarie and Blackstone, and Atlantia have been negotiating Autostrade since last year as part of efforts to end a dispute sparked by the 2018 collapse of the bridge run by the unit.
Atlantia hopes for “substantial improvements” in the consortium’s offering, the group said in a statement, adding that, if a compromise is reached, they could submit new proposals to its shareholders.
Last month the consortium presented a binding proposal valuing all Autostrades at 9.1 billion euros but Atlantia advisers said the fair value of the business was at least 10.5 billion euros, three sources close to the matter said.
The consortium also asked Atlantia to guarantee up to 700 million euros in potential damage claims and another 800 million euros in pending legal cases, making the offer less attractive.
To date there has been no concrete improvement to the proposals submitted, said two sources with knowledge of the matter, adding that there was still room for negotiations.
The Benetton family, which controls Atlantia with a 30% stake, last week supported extended talks with the CDP, asking the group chair to negotiate an increase in the offer, said a source close to the matter.
Minority investors, including hedge fund TCI, even asked the group to reject the consortium’s offer which was considered too low.
Tuesday marked an earlier deadline for Atlantia to decide whether to accept or reject the binding offer made by the consortium.
Reporting by Andrea Mandalà, Francesca Landini and Stephen Jewkes; editing by Cristina Carlevaro and David Gregorio
MILAN, Feb 22 (Reuters) – ASTM shares surged 27% on Monday, lifted by a buyout offer from a top Italian motorway group investor who wants to take the company private and revamp it.
Nuova Argo Finanziaria (NAF), which holds a 42% stake in ASTM, said at the weekend it would offer 25.60 euros per share in a new vehicle to buy minority investors at an outlay of up to 1.7 billion euros ($ 2 billion).
This represents a premium of 28.8% over ASTM’s official closing price on Friday.
The NAF said it plans to transform business, adding it will be easier to pursue reorganization of unlisted companies.
The Italian Gavio family are major investors in the NAF along with the infrastructure arm of French private equity firm Ardian.
Ardian agreed to invest in ASTM just days before a highway bridge operated by toll road company Atlantia collapsed in August 2018, killing 43 people.
In response to the tragedy, the Italian government has stepped up investment oversight by concessionaires, establishing a new body to monitor safety standards.
$ 1 = 0.8269 euros Report by Elisa Anzolin, written by Valentina Za; Edited by Kirsten Donovan
MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s Atlantia has agreed to provide a consortium led by state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) until the end of January to complete due diligence on Italian highway assets ahead of a possible final offer.
CDP, along with co-investors Macquarie and Blackstone, have been in talks since October with Atlantia to buy an 88% stake in the toll road unit Autostrade per l’Italia.
But no binding offer has yet emerged.
On 23 December, the CDP sent Atlantia a new, non-binding bid with the assurance that it would immediately proceed with due diligence but said it would take more time for analysis before a binding bid.
In a statement on Monday, Atlantia said the December 23 offer was below board expectations and below the previous range provided by the CDP itself.
“It (the offer) is still subject to potential further adjustments after the completion of the due diligence process,” said Atlantia.
The CDP-led consortium valued Autostrade at 8.5-9.5 billion euros ($ 10.4-11.6 billion) in its earlier initial offering, but the potential legal claims and repercussions from the investigation have since made it more cautious.
A source close to the matter said Monday that the CDP offer on December 23 valued the entire Autostrade at around 8 billion euros.
The deal between the two sides will end a dispute sparked by the collapse of a highway bridge operated by Autostrade in 2018 that killed 43 people.
“The board has confirmed to the CDP consortium its willingness to evaluate a potential binding offer for all of its shares held in Autostrade,” Atlantia said.
Atlantia, which is controlled by the Benetton family, meanwhile is also moving forward with alternative plans to spin off and sell or register 88% of its shares.
CDP equity, which is involved in the offer, declined to comment.
($ 1 = 0.8194 euros)
Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; Edited by Andrea Mandala and Andrew Cawthorne
GAHKUCH, Pakistan (Reuters) – As night falls on a remote mountain road in northern Pakistan, Ijaz ul Haq, 22, is opening his grocery store longer than usual, hoping to cash in on a frenetic election campaign that has served the nation’s interests. over this neglected territory.
Political parties are trying to sway voters in Gilgit-Baltistan, a poor, remote and rugged mountainous part of the greater Kashmir region which India also claims. The country’s top politicians have appeared here, vowing to build multibillion-dollar infrastructure projects and ending decades of disenfranchisement.
Gilgit-Baltistan, which borders Afghanistan and China, is the gateway to a $ 65 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) infrastructure plan. But the region has benefited little so far.
“Look at the road we have, it takes 4.5 hours to get to a proper hospital from here. If they repair the road it will take 1.5 hours, ”said Haq, who lives in Thawoos, a small hamlet in Ghizer district.
The local population fought pro-India forces and chose to join Pakistan in 1948. But since then Gilgit-Baltistan has not been given full inclusion by Pakistan’s constitution, for fear that doing so would jeopardize Islamabad’s international stance that all of Kashmir is a disputed territory.
The local assemblies, where the November 15 general elections are held, have little power. Pakistan’s National Assembly and Senate do not have representatives from Gilgit-Baltistan, and the region receives only a fraction of the national budget.
This month Prime Minister Imran Khan said he would give provisional provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan, providing greater political representation, but no deadline was given.
The announcement comes a year after India changed the status of the part of Kashmir it controls, taking away some of the region’s privileges. India rejected Khan’s plans to change Gilgit-Baltistan’s status, and called the elections there an exercise to cover up Pakistan’s occupation of the region.
Khan’s plan is not the first time locals have heard promises of constitutional rights: in 2016 Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif proposed making Gilgit-Baltistan a province as well, but scrapped the plan after pro-Pakistani leaders in Indian-administered Kashmir criticized the decision.
“We have said for a long time we wanted to be part of Pakistan, but they pushed us away,” said Yawar Abbas, a local leader at the Gilgit-Baltistan Awareness Forum, which is working to change the region’s constitutional status.
Abbas said the disputed status has left local residents in uncertainty, unable to enjoy the same rights as other Pakistanis, but also unable to enjoy autonomy.
The graves of fallen soldiers marked with the Pakistani flag adorn Ghizer district, which has the highest per capita military recruitment rate in the country.
“Poverty is rampant here, and for many of us there is no other way to make a living than joining the military,” said Haq, whose brother serves in the navy.
In winter, when the melting of the glaciers that power the small hydroelectric dams that dot the region slows down, locals often go without electricity for 20 hours a day.
The CPEC project was supposed to bring development to the regions, but that did not happen, as a result, according to residents’ beliefs, from the lack of local representation at the national level.
A new road, two hydropower plants, a fiber-optic internet line and a special economic zone to increase industrial activity have all been proposed as part of the CPEC project, but nothing has materialized so far.
The only significant project of the much-lauded China-Pakistan partnership is the construction of the Karakoram Highway, which was completed decades ago.
Like most other candidates, Jamil Ahmed, has promised voters he will try to attract more investment from China.
“CPEC will go through here, we are the gateway, we are the door to China. So if someone opens the door for you, you have to put something at the door too, ”said Ahmed, a candidate for the Pakistan People’s Party.
MILAN (Reuters) – Italian toll road lobby group AISCAT said on Tuesday that a plan was reportedly being submitted to resolve a dispute over the Atlantia toll road concession. ATL.MI The Autostrade unit per l’Italia is “messy” and not for public use.
AISCAT said it was unacceptable that the government could influence investors’ choice of buying Autostrade.
Italian state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti and investment funds Macquarie and Blackstone on Monday night submitted a proposal to buy an 88% stake in Atlantia in the highway unit Autostrade per l’Italia.
Reporting by Stefano Bernabei, written by Stephen Jewkes, editing by Giulia Segreti