MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s government is open to finding a solution over the proposed removal of Atlantia’s <ATL.MI> motorway concession if the infrastructure group pays up, Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio was quoted as saying.
In an interview with daily la Repubblica, Di Maio appeared to strike a more conciliatory tone after the hardline stance taken by his 5-Star Movement party over the concession after a bridge operated by Atlantia’s unit Autostrade per l’Italia collapsed killing 43 people last August.
“It’s no fun to revoke the concession but … the government could not keep silent,” Di Maio said, adding he did not like Autostrade’s “disrespectful attitude”.
“We’re ready to find a solution, provided Autostrade pays and there is justice for the victims,” he added without elaborating.
Reuters could not immediately reach Atlantia for a comment.
The group, controlled by Italy’s Benetton family, has already agreed to pay 439 million euros ($496 million) to rebuild the Genoa bridge, the remains of which were demolished just last week.
The 5-Star Movement’s stance over Atlantia has fuelled tensions with coalition partner the right-wing League and hindered attempts to involve Atlantia in the rescue of ailing carrier Alitalia.
In a separate newspaper interview on Tuesday, League Junior Minister Claudio Durigon said there were jobs that needed protecting when it came to Atlantia and similar issues.
In a separate case, the 5-Star has also taken aim at ArcelorMittal <MT.AS> ditching the legal immunity which the Dutch-listed group had been granted as part of a deal to rescue the troubled Ilva steel plant in southern Italy.
Durigon said a solution had to be found and a measure to reinstate the legal shield approved as soon as possible.
“ArcelorMittal has asked not to be held responsible for problems caused by (Ilva’s) previous owners, the government can’t just say ‘no’ as an answer,” Durigon told Corriere della Sera daily.
The attitude of Italy’s government has heightened concerns among business leaders who say it risks further alienating foreign investors who had reduced their exposure to Italy’s huge public debt since the coalition took power a year ago.
“Investors must know they’re welcome in Italy,” Di Maio said adding he hoped a solution could be found over Ilva.
“We’re open to discussing matters and we hope also Mittal is.”
(Reporting by Valentina Za; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman/Keith Weir)