Atlantia Said to Draw Pension Funds to $4.6 Billion Deal

  • Infrastructure company may sell up to 30% of Autostrade unit
  • Atlantia plans to use proceeds to expand outside Italy

Atlantia SpA, the Italian infrastructure company controlled by the Benetton family, could raise more than 4 billion euros ($4.6 billion) from the sale of a minority stake in its Autostrade per l’Italia SpA highway operating unit, according to people familiar with the matter.

Pension and sovereign wealth funds have expressed interest in the stake, said the people, who asked not to be named because the deliberations are private. Talks are at an early stage, and no final decisions have been made, the people said.

The company is interested in attracting investors for as much as 30 percent of Autostrade, and may also sell the stake in two halves instead of to a single bidder, the people said. A representative for Rome-based Atlantia declined to comment.

Chief Executive Officer Giovanni Castellucci wants to reduce Atlantia’s dependence on Italy and said this month that he plans to sell part of the Autostrade business to help fund an expansion abroad. The highway business posted 2.74 billion euros in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization last year, up 2 percent from 2014, on 4.42 billion euros of revenue.

The unit could have an enterprise value of about 26.5 billion euros, which includes 10.3 billion euros of debt, Intesa Sanpaolo SpA analyst Meris Tonin said in a note to clients. A 30 percent stake, excluding debt, would be valued at 4.8 billion euros, according to her analyst’s estimates.

The billionaire Benettons are seeking partners for businesses ranging from airports to their namesake clothing retailer as they revamp their family holdings. Last year, the family sold their stake in World Duty Free SpA to Dufry AG.

Atlantia shares reversed earlier losses in Milan trading and rose as much as 1.35 percent to 24.72 euros. The stock was up 0.2 percent at 12:32 p.m. giving the company a market value of 20.17 billion euros.

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