Shares in Italy's Autogrill fall ahead of 600 mln euro rights issue

MILAN, June 9 (Reuters) - Shares in Italy’s Autogrill fell more than 1% on Wednesday after the caterer unveiled details of a 600 million euro ($731 million) rights issue due to start next week.

The company controlled by the Benetton family said on Tuesday it would offer 130.6 million new shares at a price of 4.59 euros each, a 27.9% discount on the theoretical price of the stock following the issue, or TERP.

After opening down 2.6% on the Milan bourse, the shares were 1.7% lower at 1000 GMT, underperforming a 0.2% drop in Milan’s FTSE all-share index.

The launch of the rights issue was expected but analysts said the amount of new shares and the discount on the TERP would weigh on the stock of the company that runs restaurants and bars on motorways and in airports around the world.

“Given the size, which is about one third of the market capitalisation, and due to arbitrages between rights and shares, the stock price could come under downward pressure in coming weeks,” broker Bestinver said in a comment.

It also noted that only half of the rights issue would go on the market because the Benettons have committed to subscribe to 50.1% of the new shares to keep their stake unchanged.

Autogrill, which was advised by Lazard on the rights issue, said it wanted to focus on more profitable locations for its restaurants and shift towards higher-margin products after cutting costs aggressively last year to weather the pandemic. ($1 = 0.8205 euros) (Reporting by Francesca Landini; Editing by David Clarke)