Atlantia Expects Business to Expand in 2012 Amid Crisis, Castellucci Says

Atlantia SpA (ATL), Italy’s biggest toll- road operator, expects 2012 growth as it bids for highway projects in Turkey with partners, said Chief Executive Officer Giovanni Castellucci.

The company forecasts an increase in earnings before interest, taxes and one-time items of 4 percent above the rate of traffic growth per year “in the medium term” and will maintain its dividend policy, Castellucci said in a phone interview from Rome.

Atlantia, which is controlled by the Benetton family, has been expanding outside its home market and modernizing the Italian toll-road network to boost revenue and profit. The company manages the main highway linking Milan with Naples, as well as the Italian side of the Mont Blanc tunnel under the Alps.

Even with weak traffic figures for 2012, “earnings still will show sound growth,” Roberto Mascarello, an analyst at Kepler, wrote in a note to clients Dec. 1. “We reiterate our view that Atlantia’s financial position is credit-crunch proof.” He has a “buy’ rating on the stock.

The Italian company isn’t delaying a 20-billion euro ($27 billion) investment plan, mainly in Italy, because of the European debt crisis, the CEO said. A Singapore sovereign wealth fund invested about 250 million euros in the Italian company a few weeks ago, he said.

Breakup Risk

“This shows that the perception of a euro breakup risk is too exaggerated,” Castellucci said.

The company has no financing needs until 2014 because “we’re sitting on 1 billion euros of cash” and it has another 3 billion euros in committed credit lines, Castellucci said earlier today in an interview with Bloomberg Television. Atlantia has 2.75 billion euros of debt maturing in 2014, according to Bloomberg data.

Castelucci also confirmed a previous forecast that 2011 operating profit will be higher than 2010.

The Italian company will “very likely” bid in an auction for operating rights for roads and bridges in Turkey with Akfen Holding AS (AKFEN), Dogus Holding AS and Makyol Insaat Sanayi Turizm & Ticaret AS, Castellucci said.

Atlantia has shelved a planned initial public offer for its Chilean unit, Autopistas do Pacifico SA, and is evaluating a private sale to investors such as pension funds, Castellucci said without elaborating.

The shares were down 0.8 percent to 11.94 euros at 12:47 p.m. in Milan, giving the company a market value of 7.5 billion euros.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tommaso Ebhardt in Milan at tebhardt@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net

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