Atlantia, CDP pick advisers as investors line up for Autostrade’s stake: sources By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Toll-road operator Autostrade per l’Italia’s Rome headquarters

By Stephen Jewkes and Giuseppe Fonte

MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s Atlantia has picked Bank of America Merrill Lynch (NYSE:), JP Morgan and Mediobanca (OTC:) to advise on the sale of a stake in its motorway unit, two sources close to the matter said, as suitors line up to invest in its Autostrade per l’Italia unit.

Atlantia (MI:), which is controlled by the Benetton family, agreed on Wednesday to reduce its stake in Autostrade to allow the government to gain control and end a dispute on the unit’s motorway licence.

Under the deal, state lender CDP and allied investors will take a majority stake in Autostrade before an eventual spin-off and listing.

The CDP’s entry into Autostrade would come through a capital increase that would dilute Atlantia’s 88% stake and hand 33% of the unit to the CDP. Another 22% would be sold directly to private investors selected by CDP, sources have said.

According to two other sources, UniCredit and Citigroup (NYSE:) will advise CDP on the deal.

Several investors are looking at the opportunity to invest in Autostrade, two sources close to the matter said. All the sources requested anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the press.

“Among investors interested in Autostrade, there are Poste Italiane (MI:), through its insurance arm, and several Italian pension funds,” one source close to the matter said.

“The government has no bias against foreign investors,” the source said, adding Australia’s infrastructure fund Macquarie and U.S. investment firm Blackstone (NYSE:) could team up with CDP.

A third source said the interest in the motorway company shown by Italian infrastructure fund F2i had cooled.

An official memorandum of understanding on the deal agreed between the government and Atlantia is expected to be ready by the end of July, sources had said, adding Rome wanted Autostrade to be listed early next year.

Atlantia, Bank of America, Blackstone, F2i, JP Morgan, Macquarie, Mediobanca and Poste Italiane declined to comment on the issue. Citigroup, CDP and UniCredit were not immediately available for comment.

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