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Atlantia investors to back CDP-led offer for motorway unit - sources

MILAN, May 31 (Reuters) - Atlantia investors are on Monday expected to back the sale of the group’s motorway unit to Italian state lender CDP and allies, two sources close to the matter said, bringing to an end a dispute triggered by a deadly bridge disaster in 2018.

Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), together with Blackstone and Macquarie, put forward an offer valuing Atlantia’s Autostrade per l’Italia unit at 9.3 billion euros ($11 billion) last month.

The proposal is sponsored by the government, which has been seeking to regain control of Autostrade ever since a bridge run by the toll-road company in the port city of Genoa gave way and killed 43 people on August 14, 2018.

Proxy advisers have recommended investors in Atlantia give their go-ahead to the sale of the infrastructure group’s 88% stake in Autostrade to the CDP consortium.

“No surprises are expected (at the AGM) after the proxy advisers backed the deal,” one of the sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

A deal would mean that the powerful Benetton family, which controls Atlantia, will bow out of Autostrade, as requested by a part of Italy’s governing coalition.

It would also release capital and managers’ time at the group, allowing it to pursue new initiatives after nearly three years of impasse.

The transaction is expected to go through even if some minority shareholders, including TCI, are against it. The activist fund has repeatedly criticised the deal, saying Autostrade is worth no less than 11 billion euros.

Germany’s Allianz and funds DIF, EDF Invest and China’s Silk Road Fund, which own 12% of Autostrade, have an option to sell their stakes to the CDP consortium under the same conditions.

Shares in Atlantia are up 3.2% at 0825 GMT, outperforming a 0.3% rise in Milan’s bluechip index.

$1 = 0.8203 euros Additional reporting by Elvira Pollina; Editing by Jan Harvey

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