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

Alessandro Benetton, president of Edizione, the holding company of the Italian family, in Ponzano Veneto (Veneto), in April 2012.

The operation had been in the air for days and had been highly anticipated by the markets, causing, since the beginning of April, a sharp rise in the price of Atlantia on the Milan Stock Exchange. On Thursday, April 14, the Benetton family and the US investment fund Blackstone made public the takeover bid for this group, which manages numerous highways and airports. The stated objective is to create a new company to repurchase all of the group’s securities, in order to delist it, thus ensuring the“italianity” of an infrastructure giant, by shielding it from greed.

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Setting the buyback price at €23 per share (plus an exceptional dividend of 74 cents), the offer values ​​Atlantia at €19 billion, and appears to have been received favorably by the markets. On Thursday night, at the close of the Milan Stock Exchange, Atlantia’s share price had risen by almost 5%, thus adding to the value proposed by the Benetton family.

But the general impression is that this maneuver is just an introduction, destined to take the Spanish ACS Group by surprise, whose appetite for Atlantia is no mystery to anyone – the construction giant, headed by Florentino Pérez (also president of Real Madrid ), announced in early April that it was working, with the funds Global Infrastructure Partners and Brookfield, on a takeover bid aimed above all at seizing Atlantica’s highway concessions. From now on, it is his counterattack that is expected in the coming days.

A cozy war chest

Concessionaire of nearly 10,000 kilometers of highways around the world and manager of five airports (including those of Rome-Fiumicino and Nice), the group, which obtained more than 600 million euros in profits in 2021, has nothing to arouse the greed. For the Benettons, who until now own more than 33% through their Edizione holding company, this asset is extremely important: much more than the trade in woolen sweaters, the source of the clan’s fortune, it is he, henceforth, who It is the heart of the family heritage.

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For the new president of Edizione, Alessandro Benetton, who came to the head of the group in January, this operation is like a baptism of fire. To achieve its goals, it has a comfortable war chest: the 8,000 million euros that Atlantia must earn from the sale of Autostrade per l’Italia to a consortium led by the Italian Caisse des Dépôts (partner, for this operation, of the Blackstone and Macquarie Funds).

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