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Shares in Italy's motorway group ASTM soar on bid to take company private

MILAN, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Shares in ASTM jumped 27% on Monday, lifted by a buyout offer from the Italian motorway group’s top investor which wants to take the company private and overhaul it.

Nuova Argo Finanziaria (NAF), which holds a 42% stake in ASTM, said at the weekend it would offer 25.60 euros a share through a new vehicle to buy out minority investors for an outlay of up to 1.7 billion euros ($2 billion).

The price represents a premium of 28.8% to ASTM’s official closing price on Friday.

NAF said it planned to revamp the business, adding it would be easier to pursue the reorganisation of an unlisted company.

Italy’s Gavio family is the main investor in NAF alongside the infrastructure arm of French private equity firm Ardian.

Ardian agreed to invest in ASTM just a few days before a motorway bridge operated by toll-road firm Atlantia collapsed in August 2018, killing 43 people.

In response to the tragedy, Italy’s government has stepped up oversight of investments made by concession holders, setting up a new agency to monitor safety standards.

$1 = 0.8269 euros Reporting by Elisa Anzolin, writing by Valentina Za; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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