Italy mulls takeover of firm behind bridge disaster

A view of the Morandi highway bridge that collapsed in Genoa, northern Italy last week. Photo: AP
A view of the Morandi highway bridge that collapsed in Genoa, northern Italy last week. Photo: AP

Italy’s government is considering involving state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti in a public takeover of the toll roads concession now held by Atlantia’s Autostrade per l’Italia, according to people familiar with the matter.

A role for the state lender is one option Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s government is considering and the plan is still very preliminary, the sources said.

One possibility is for CDP to eventually acquire a controlling stake in Autostrade, the people said. It’s unclear whether Atlantia’s controlling Benetton family would be open to a deal.

Another option is to follow through with threats to revoke the concession following the collapse of the Morandi bridge in Genoa that killed 43 people last week, and hand it to ANAS, the government’s road operator.

Deploying CDP, which manages €420bn in assets, would offer the populist government a solution that meets pledges to allow the state to take over operations while stopping short of full nationalisation, which could unsettle investors.

Spokespeople for the Italian treasury and CDP weren’t immediately available to comment. CDP is controlled by the Italian treasury with an 83pc stake.

The government sent a formal dispute letter dated August 16 to the company starting the process of ending the concession after the bridge collapsed last week.

Mr Conte stepped up pressure on Tuesday, telling ‘Corriere della Sera’ newspaper that an initial disaster-relief offer of €500m in aid to victims and the community is “certainly modest,” and that the company “could quadruple or quintuple that” to about €2.5bn. (Bloomberg)

Irish Independent

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