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