The Benettons launch a takeover bid for Atlantia to protect it from covetousness

The deal had been up in the air for days and had been widely anticipated by markets, prompting a sharp rise in Atlantia’s price on the Milan Stock Exchange since early April. On Thursday April 14th, the Benetton family and the American investment fund Blackstone announced the acquisition of this group, which manages many highways and airports. The declared goal is to set up a new company that will buy back all the group’s securities in order to delist them and thus the“Italian” of an infrastructure giant by protecting it from covetousness.

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By setting the buyback price at €23 per share (plus a special dividend of 74 cents), the offer values ​​Atlantia at €19 billion and seems to have been well received by the markets. At the close of trading on the Milan Stock Exchange on Thursday evening, Atlantia’s share price rose almost 5%, following the level proposed by the Benetton family.

But the general impression is that this maneuver is just an introduction aimed at surprising the Spanish Grupo ACS, whose appetite for Atlantia is no mystery to anyone, announced the construction giant led by Florentino Perez (also President of Real Madrid) In early April, he worked with funds Global Infrastructure Partners and Brookfield on a takeover bid aimed primarily at acquiring Atlantica’s freeway concessions. From now on, it’s his counterattack that’s expected in the coming days.

A cozy war chest

As the concessionaire of almost 10,000 kilometers of motorways around the world and manager of five airports (including those of Rome-Fiumicino and Nice), the group, which made a profit of more than 600 million euros in 2021, has everything to arouse covetousness. For the Benettons, who so far hold more than 33% through their Edizione stake, this asset is of the utmost importance: far more than the trade in wool sweaters, the source of the clan’s wealth, it henceforth forms the heart of the family heritage.

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For Edizione’s new president, Alessandro Benetton, who took over as head of the group in January, this operation is like a baptism of fire. To achieve his goals, he has a comfortable war chest: the €8 billion Atlantia needs to earn from the sale of Autostrade per l’Italia to a consortium led by Italy’s Caisse des Dépôts (Blackstone and Blackstone’s partners in this operation). Macquarie Fund).

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