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ACS has designs on Atlantia, its main shareholder Benetton opposes it


Madrid (awp/afp) – The Benetton family, the main shareholder of Atlantia, said on Thursday that it opposed the project of the Spanish construction giant ACS, which has teamed up with two funds to launch an offer for the Italian group and take control of its highways.

Approached “unsolicited” by these investors, the Benetton family’s Edizione holding company said in a press release that it considered such an operation “devoid of interest”, insofar as it would lead to a “breakup of the group Atlanta”.

Edizione highlighted its “own strategic orientation” which consists of “preserving the integrity of the group and giving new impetus to its activities by supporting its sustainable development as a main shareholder”.

“Atlantia is and will remain a long-term strategic asset for Edizione,” a source close to the family had previously commented to AFP.

ACS announced on Wednesday evening that it had entered into “an exclusive agreement with two major international investment funds (GIP and Brookfield) under which ACS would buy the majority of the motorway concessions division”, thus confirming information from the Bloomberg agency.

The group led by Florentino Perez, also president of the Real Madrid football club, however said that it had not yet made a final decision.

A motorway and airport group controlled by the Benetton family, Atlantia has climbed the Milan Stock Exchange since the announcement of ACS’s interest. Around 2:00 p.m. GMT, the stock took 7.08% to 20.34 euros, representing a total market capitalization of 15.4 billion euros.

A stock market battle for Atlantia cannot be ruled out as the Benetton family, which owns 33.1% of Atlantia, confirmed for its part that it was in discussions with the American fund Blackstone, without specifying the nature of this “partnership”. .

“No agreement has yet been reached ‘with Blackstone’ regarding operations relating to Atlantia,” Edizione assured.

Atlantia, which employs more than 30,000 people in 24 countries, manages five airports and more than 50 motorway concessions in ten countries.

On the other hand, the Italian group has already sold in June 2021 Autostrade per l’Italia (Aspi), manager of the Genoa viaduct which collapsed in August 2018, to a consortium led by the Italian Caisse des dépôts (CDP).

ACS had expressed its interest in Aspi to Atlantia without, however, submitting a formal offer.

After the tragedy in Genoa, which claimed the lives of 43 people, Atlantia found itself in turmoil, the investigation having revealed serious shortcomings in the maintenance of the bridge.

Atlantia and ACS jointly own the Spanish motorway company Abertis, which owns the French motorways Sanef.

For Banca Akros analysts, a possible merger between ACS and Atlantia “would lead to additional synergies at the level of Latin American activities (held directly by Atlantia and via Abertis)”.

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