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UPDATE 2-CDP-led consortium says sweetens bid for Atlantia unit

(Adds CDP statement, details)

ROME, March 31 (Reuters) - A consortium of investors led by Italian state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) said on Wednesday it had approved a sweetened offer for Atlantia’s 88% stake in motorway unit Autostrade per l’Italia.

“The consortium believes the offer should be evaluated positively by Atlantia and its shareholders,” the suitors said in a statement.

They did not give details, but two sources close to the matter told Reuters the consortium was asking Atlantia to cover much less than the 1.5 billion euros in potential legal risks that was presented in the offer in February.

That number was reduced to around 800 million euros in the new bid, one of the sources said.

The two sources said the bid was based on an unchanged valuation of 9.1 billion euros ($10.7 billion) for the whole of Autostrade.

It also allows Atlantia to keep subsidies Rome is expected to grant Autostrade as part of support offered to companies in the wake of the pandemic, according to the sources.

CDP, together with co-investors Macquarie and Blackstone, have been negotiating with infrastructure group Atlantia over Autostrade since last year to try to end a dispute triggered by the 2018 collapse of a bridge run by the unit which killed 43 people.

CDP approved the bid on Wednesday and Atlantia is expected to hold an informal meeting on Thursday to discuss it.

A formal assessment will probably have to wait until next week when the Atlantia board must decide if the offer is attractive enough to bring to shareholders.

On Monday the Benetton family and Italian banking foundation CRT, both key Atlantia investors, blocked a shareholder proposal to extend a plan to spin off Autostrade.

The vote exposed a rift among investors and raised question marks over the reception of the revised offer by Atlantia’s minority shareholders, including activist hedge fund TCI, which repeatedly said that 100% of Autostrade is worth no less than 12.5 billion euros.

Germany’s Allianz and funds DIF, EDF Invest and China’s Silk Road Fund own 12% of Autostrade. ($1 = 0.8527 euro) (Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte in Rome and Francesca Landini in Milan. Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Matthew Lewis and Sonya Hepinstall)

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