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Atlantia lodges complaints with market watchdog, EU over ministers' comments

Francesca Landini
·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: A logo of the Atlantia Group is seen outside their headquarters in Rome
FILE PHOTO: A logo of the Atlantia Group is seen outside their headquarters in Rome

By Francesca Landini

MILAN (Reuters) - Italian infrastructure group Atlantia <ATL.MI> said on Thursday it had presented new complaints to market regulator Consob and the European Commission over comments by two ministers that led to volatility of its shares in the stock market.

Atlantia, controlled by the Benetton family, has been locked in a legal battle with the state over its motorway concession since the deadly collapse of a bridge operated by its Autostrade per l'Italia toll-road unit in 2018. The government has been threatening to strip Autostrade of its concession.

The dispute appeared to have been resolved on July 14 when the government approved a plan that would see Atlantia pull out of the Autostrade business to make room for state lender CDP.

But that agreement risks unravelling now after talks with CDP reached a stalemate.

Italy's industry and transport ministries on Thursday made new comments on a possible revocation of Autostrade's concession sending shares down as much as 5%. The stock was briefly halted from trading and ended down 2.16%.

"The impact of such statements can in fact have significant consequences on the regularity of negotiations, especially now that a possible divestment of Autostrade is under discussion," Atlantia said in a statement.

The group added that the government's renewed threats to strip Autostrade of its concession contradicted the agreement between the government and the group to sell Autostrade to CDP at market conditions.

According to two sources with knowledge of the matter, Atlantia is in contact with the EU Commission to organize a meeting in Brussels soon to discuss the dispute with Rome.

The group sent a letter on Sept. 9 to several departments of the Commission - including the Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union (FISMA) DG - alleging that Rome was acting against the state of law in the negotiations over the sale of Autostrade to CDP.

The Commission replied saying it was examining issues raised by Atlantia and was ready to organize a meeting with the group's officials, according to the text of a letter seen by Reuters.

(Reporting by Francesca Landini; Editing by Angus MacSwan)