Italy strengthened its power until the end of the year to veto ACS and its partners in Atlanta | companies

The management of the Roman airports of Fiumicino and Ciampinowith respectively 43 and 6 million passengers per year, and mastery of the toll system tv pass, make Atlanta a strategic company for Italy. and the government of Mario Draghi, as various stock market analysts have anticipated, will not hesitate to use all its influence to prevent the infrastructure operator from ending up in foreign hands. This is one of the obstacles that threatens the funds GIP and Brookfieldwith whom he forms a team DHWin its proposed acquisition of the company controlled by the benetton family.

The European Commission is against the use of the gold share by EU member states as it is contrary to the free movement of capital and the principles of the single market. However, Italy already threatened in April last year, with Draghi as head of the executive, to veto the purchase of motorway operator Autostrade precisely by ACS. Atlantia had to forcibly sell this subsidiary after the Genoese Morandi viaduct incident in August 2018, but the buyer was public, the financial institution Cassa Depositi e PrestitI.

France also halted Carrefour’s merger with Canada’s Couche-Tard last January, hinting at preserving food safety to impose its veto.

A €26 takeover bid would value Atlantia above its price before the 2018 incident

Once editing, the Benetton investment holding company and owner of 33.1% of Atlantia, rejected the approach of the North American funds and ACS last Thursday, the first thing it indicated was that it intended to maintain the ” Italian roots” of the motorway firm. He also admitted that day that he was in negotiations with the American fund Blackstone to strengthen the industrial plan of Atlantia, in which Edizione intends to continue in the long term.

The Benettons called on Italy to defend them. And the government has the ability to review, and ultimately prevent or impose harsh conditions, the operations of companies that affect strategic sectors, such as defence, communications, 5G technology, energy and services. transport. Its regulations abandoned in 2012 the concept of GoldenShare adopt the golden power. This is by Decree-Law 21 of March 15, 2012 and after a judgment of the European Court of Justice.

This law on foreign investments has been amended several times in order to clarify its scope. And the right of veto was reinforced after the outbreak of the pandemic (Decree-Law 23, of April 8, 2020 or Prime Minister’s Decrees 179/2020 and 180/2020), adding new sectors classified as strategic: water , health , data, financial industry, information technology, media, ports, airports, rail and highway networks, among others. The extended government powers will be in effect until at least December 31.

Given this, Spanish diplomacy has already defended on other occasions the principle of reciprocity in foreign investment. And the precedent is close: the Italian Atlantia took control of the Spanish Abertis at the end of 2018 with the approval of the government of Mariano Rajoy.

The Italian’s historic maximum was 28.2 euros almost four years ago

possible offers

On the market, it is expected that the main shareholder of Atlanta and its powerful partner Blackstone formulate a takeover bid, ahead of ACS, GIP and Brookfield. Already on Friday it was leaked to the Italian press that the price could be around 24 euros per share. This is another possible obstacle to the claims of Florentino Perez, which recognized before the CNMV the desire to take control of the motorway activity of Atlantia, with which it shares the capital of Abertis. An offer at 24 euros values ​​Atlanta at €20,298 million19% above Thursday’s closing price and still at a 14.8% premium to Friday’s price.

Financial sources point out that the approach of GIP and Brookfield to Benetton, during meetings held on March 3 and 23, crystallized in a non-binding offer on the 30th of this month: 22 euros per share. And on the market, there is speculation that a competing takeover bid below 26 euros would not seem to succeed. But that price already puts Atlantia above what it was quoted just before the Genoa incident.

The historical maximum for the Italian was 28.2 euros per share at the end of May 2018; the price was 25.88 euros just before the collapse of the Morandi viaduct, which killed 43 people, and has not exceeded 24.7 euros since.

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