MILAN, April 16 (Reuters) - ACS intends to present
a binding bid for Atlantia's motorway unit within a
reasonable time frame, the Spanish company wrote in its second
letter to the Italian group, two sources said on Friday.
In its communication the Spanish group headed by businessman
Florentino Perez said it aimed at starting due diligence for
Autostrade with the support of Societe Generale, the sources
added. It did not specify exactly how quickly it would proceed
with any bid for a business it values at 9-10 billion euros
ACS, a partner of Atlantia in the management of Spanish
toll-road operator Abertis, last week expressed interest in the
88% stake the Italian group owns in the Autostrade per l'Italia
business. Its move risks complicating government-backed plans to
reclaim the asset.
Rome is currently backing a binding offer prepared by a
consortium of investors headed by Italian state lender CDP.
Talks with Atlantia, which is controlled by the Benetton
family, and the CDP-led consortium are part of an effort to end
a dispute triggered by the deadly collapse of a bridge run by
Autostrade in 2018.
Two sources said that in this second message, the Spanish
company repeated it was interested in winning the support of the
Italian government for a potential transaction.
The latest letter from ACS arrived on Friday as the board of
Atlantia decided to call an ordinary shareholder meeting on May
28 to examine the bid submitted by CDP and its partners,
Macquarie and Blackstone.
Atlantia said it would hold another board meeting next week
to examine the CDP-led consortium bid "in order to ensure that
all aspects of the background, the deal, the board's own views
on the fairness of the offer and any alternative scenarios are
covered in the explanatory report" for shareholders.
"The board will thus have the opportunity to evaluate any
changes to the offer that the CDP-led consortium might submit,"
the infrastructure group said in a statement.
Some investors in Atlantia, including hedge fund TCI, have
said that the offer from the consortium, which is based on a
valuation of Autostrade equal to 9.1 billion euros, is too low.
The board of Atlantia will take a final decision on the
matter only by May 28, it said.
($1 = 0.8349 euros)
(Additional reporting by Clara-Laeila Laudette and Jesus Aguado
Editing by Keith Weir)