ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is meeting coalition allies on Wednesday in a new effort to settle a row over the concession held by Atlantia’s (ATL.MI) motorway unit, two government sources told Reuters.
FILE PHOTO: A man looks at Morandi Bridge, before controlled explosions will demolish two of its pylons almost one year since a section of the viaduct collapsed killing 43 people, in Genoa, Italy June 28, 2019. REUTERS/Massimo Pinca/File Photo
The ruling anti-establishment 5-Star Movement pledged to strip motorway operator Autostrade per l’Italia of its lucrative licence after a bridge it operated collapsed in 2018, killing 43 people.
A resolution to the issue could clear the way for a 1.25 billion-euro ($1.37 billion) state-guaranteed loan which Autostrade applied for to weather the negative impact of the coronavirus crisis.
The sources, asking not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, said the meeting was scheduled for the morning, but a final decision on the issue was not expected.
The centre-left PD party, which governs with 5-Star, has been reluctant to strip Autostrade of its concession, fearing it could lead to a large compensation claim against the state.
The request for help during the coronavirus pandemic triggered criticism last week from 5-Star members who are against the state guaranteeing funding to Benetton-led Atlantia.
5-star wants either a revocation of the concession or Atlantia to reduce its 88% stake in Autostrade so that the Benetton family loses control of the motorway operator, a party source said.
The government would back an acquisition of a relevant stake in Autostrade by infrastructure fund F2i and state lender CDP.
However, a third source close to the matter told Reuters that CDP was unwilling to take a stake in Autostrade before the dispute with the government was settled.
At 1055 GMT Atlantia shares were up 1,82%, outperforming the Italian blue-chip index .FTMIB. ($1 = 0.9124 euros)
Additional reporting Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Kirsten Donovan