We could call it the Spanish track. Which, however, has a defect at the origin. It promises to be hostile to the moves of the Italian government which intends to manage a regulated asset, such as that of the country’s largest motorway network (3,000 kilometers of routes), through the Cassa Depositi intermediary. For this reason, in the letter Florentino Prez, the patron of Acs, the construction giant, historical partner of the Benettons in Atlantia, having conceived a 50% equal joint-venture for the Spanish motorway manager Abertis (thanks also to the incorporation of the German group Hochtief) hasty to sterilize the risks.
In the letter sent yesterday to the board of Atlantia – which met to evaluate it – there is the opening to the hypothesis of co-investment with Cassa Depositi. It is clear that in his plan the guests of stone risk being the foreign funds Blackstone and Macquarie which would hold – in the joint offer with CDP – 49% of the vehicle for a valuation of Autostrade equal to 9.1 billion net of debt.
The president of Real Madrid believes the manager worth a little more. Up to 10 billion in a fork. Per has not yet done due diligence on the manager. We are at a pre-expression of interest, it is not a binding offer but it is clear that the shareholders of Atlantia cannot refrain from evaluating it if they understand that they can get more out of the sale operation. The eventual relaunch risks splitting Atlantia’s shareholders even more. Already data for misaligned with some funds, such as the combative TCI, a hedge fund based in London, which rose to 10% of the share capital (but 1% of the voting rights) and believes it has a say in the meeting if it were called to approve its transfer. Above all because it is not yet clear the quorum necessary for the final ok, whether at 51 or 67%. It is no coincidence that Chris Hohn, the spokesperson-manager of Tci tells the Courier service to expect Atlantia’s board of directors to act in the best interests of all shareholders and to engage independently and professionally to explore the offering. Hohn sees the risk of interference by the Italian government on the sale. Complicating the picture is the lens of the EU Commission on the change of control of the manager. With the pending risk of an infringement procedure that the Draghi government would be called upon to sterilize in Brussels.
But just as logical is Prez’s interest in upping the ante. His co-partner in Abertis, by selling Autostrade at a reasonable price, would risk crippling the investments of the Spanish manager as well. And those 4.9 billion – just sprouted by the French from Vinci to whom it sold some energy assets – will make it liquid in a year and able to influence the game by lengthening the time for renationalisation of Aspi.