ROME, April 8 (Reuters) - Talks between Atlantia and a team of investors led by Italian state lender CDP have entered a key moment, the country’s transport minister said on Thursday, when the group holds a board meeting to review the new offer for its motorway unit.
Last week CDP and its partners Macquarie and Blackstone filed a new proposal to buy Atlantia’s 88% stake in Autostrade per l’Italia unit in a fresh effort to end a dispute triggered by the collapse of a bridge run by Autostrade.
The revised offer is based on a valuation of 9.1 billion euros ($10.80 billion) for the whole of Autostrade and asks Atlantia to cover 870 million euros in potential legal risks, making concessions compared with the bid presented by the consortium in February.
Atlantia’s shareholders, however, are divided over the deal, with some core investors backing it and smaller ones asking for a higher price and better conditions.
A surprise overture for Autostrade by Spanish businessman Florentino Perez has further complicated the situation.
“It is an important moment in the talks between Atlantia and CDP and the funds,” Transport Minister Enrico Giovannini told financial broadcaster Radio24. “And, it is appropriate that they go ahead according to market rules”.
Asked about a potential investment by Spanish infrastructure group ACS in Autostrade, Giovannini said he did not want to comment on media speculation.
Perez, chairman of ACS, said on Tuesday the company would seek to create a pan-European group of road operators with its Italian partner Atlantia, which is selling Autostrade. ACS, however, has not put forward any concrete proposal so far.
On Thursday, the board of Atlantia will meet for a preliminary review of the offer sent by the CDP-led consortium. The board is expected to hold another meeting in the coming days before deciding whether to submit the proposal to investors, calling an ordinary or an extraordinary shareholders meeting. ($1 = 0.8425 euros) (Reporting by Giselda Vagnoni and Francesca Landini, writing by Francesca Landini; Editing by Kim Coghill)