By Francesca Landini and Stephen Jewkes
MILAN – The Benetton family and U.S. investment fund Blackstone are working on a premium of around 30% over Atlantia’s average stock price in the last six months, as they ready a bid that could land as early as Wednesday, three sources said.
The two partners are considering an offer between 22 and 23 euros per share, one of the sources said, but cautioned no final decision had been taken.
While a significant premium on the six month average share price, that would be a more modest increase over the current price of about 21.7 euros, and would value the whole of Atlantia – in which the Benetton family already owns a 33% stake – at about 18.1-19.0 billion euros ($19.7-$20.7 billion).
Shares in the Italian infrastructure group have gained nearly 20% since April 6 when speculation first emerged about an approach involving Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), Brookfield and Florentino Perez, head of Spain’s ACS.
The stock hit a two-year high of 22.5 euros on Monday as investors waited for a move that could take the group private.
“The offer could land very soon, even early Wednesday morning,” one of the sources said.
Blackstone and Benetton holding company Edizione declined to comment.
GRAPHIC – Atlantia’s bumpy ride https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/byvrjbylxve/ATLANTIA_BID_WAR.png
Edizione and Blackstone want to delist Atlantia to shield it from the appetite of rival suitors, who approached the Benettons last month with a proposal to buy the group and hand over Atlantia’s motorway concessions to Perez.
GIP, Brookfield and the Spanish tycoon are in a ‘wait and see’ mode after the Benetton family and Atlantia’s long-time investors CRT and GIC rebuffed their offer, sources have said.
The takeover offer comes as Atlantia prepares to pocket 8 billion euros from the sale of the group’s Italian motorway unit, a deal aimed at ending a political dispute triggered by the 2018 collapse of a motorway bridge.
It also puts the spotlight on Alessandro Benetton, 58, who was appointed chairman of Edizione earlier this year, tightening the family’s grip on its investments.
After parting ways with its Autostrade per l’Italia, Atlantia will continue to run airports in Italy and France, motorways in Europe and Latin America and digital toll payment company Telepass.
The Italian government so far has been silent on the latest developments, but it has special vetting ‘golden’ powers over strategic assets, such as the country’s airports and their ownership.
($1 = 0.9184 euro)