Spain's ACS confirms bid for Atlantia's stake in motorway unit

MADRID (Reuters) – Spanish infrastructure group ACS confirmed on Friday it had made an initial offer to Italy’s Atlantia to buy its 88% stake in motorway unit Autostrade per l’Italia.

ACS said in a statement it sent a letter to Atlantia’s board of directors it was interested in buying the stake together with other investors such as Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP).

ACS values Autostrade at between 9 billion and 10 billion euros ($10.7 billion to $11.9 billion), the Spanish group said.

The ACS statement, which confirmed information released by Atlantia on Thursday, fuelled investors’ appetite for shares in the Italian infrastructure group.

Atlantia’s shares opened more than 2% higher, adding to a 3.1% gain posted on Thursday when ACS’s interest first emerged.

Italian state lender CDP is already heading a team of investors, including Macquarie and Blackstone, that presented a binding bid for Autostrade last week.

CDP and its partners’ bid is based on a valuation of 9.1 billion euros for the whole of Autostrade. It asked Atlantia to cover 870 million euros in potential legal risks linked to a 2018 deadly bridge disaster, sources had said.

Atlantia said its board on Thursday began looking at a revised offer sent last week by the CDP-led consortium but acknowledged the ACS group’s interest.

The board also asked the group’s financial advisers to explore the intentions of ACS, a source with knowledge of the matter said.

Toll-road operator Autostrade, which manages half of Italy’s motorway network, has been in the political crosshairs since the collapse of a motorway bridge run by the company in the town of Genoa which caused the death of 43 people.

ACS has been a partner of Atlantia in Spanish toll road operator Abertis since the two group’s joint acquisition of the company in 2017.

Florentino Perez, Chairman of ACS and Real Madrid soccer club, said on Tuesday he hoped to create a pan-European group of road operators with his Italian partner.

ACS could reinvest part of the 4.9 billion euros it will pocket when it finalises a deal to sell the group’s energy business to Vinci.

($1 = 0.8411 euros)

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