Autostrade launches the challenge to the government: “Without loans, no investments” – La Stampa


Atlantia breaks the delay and goes to the clash with the government on the Autostrade issue and threatens the possibility of a dispute with an outcome that is anything but taken for granted with the State. Long months of negotiations were not enough to find a solution to the dispute that arose after the wicked collapse of the Morandi bridge in Genoa with its burden of 43 victims. The managers of the Benetton family, which controls Atlantia through the Edizione holding company, wanted to overcome the unpleasant sensation of scorched earth around the group. No liquidity from CDP or even from banks through the Sace guarantee. This is because the “downgrade” of Autostrade per l’Italia following the Milleproroghe rule which changes the value of the compensation mechanisms in the event of revocation of the concession (between € 22 and € 23 billion according to the original calculation model also endorsed by Mediobanca; no longer of 8 billion with the new criteria), has jammed all credit mechanisms. Thus Atlantia has summoned an extraordinary board of directors and given a dry indication to the subsidiary Aspi: it will have 900 million allocated by the holding company for the sole safety of the network, but at the same time block all other investments. Which are not exactly bruscolini: 14.5 billion jobs.

Atlantia speaks of serious damages due to the slowness of the decisions and the choices of the Milleproroghe that keep the company on the market grate and announces that it has “given a mandate to its lawyers to evaluate all the initiatives necessary for the protection of the company and the group”. The classic drop that overflows the jar was the recent statement by the Deputy Minister of the Grill for Economic Development, Stefano Buffagni. They asked him about Aspi’s request for liquidity through the state guarantee mechanism with Sace and he came out with a joke that leaves no doubts: “Asking is lawful, answering is courtesy: no thanks!”. Atlantia replied “expressing strong concern because these are statements based on assessments and criteria of a largely discretionary and subjective nature towards those who are making an important contribution to the country’s infrastructure development”.

The concession
We are always at the starting point: the concession. Atlantia reiterates that “no response has yet been received to the formal proposal sent by Aspi to the Ministry of Infrastructure on March 5, in order to find a shared solution regarding the dispute procedure that has been going on for almost two years now”. This, argues Atlantia, despite the burdens for the construction of the new Genoa bridge, the compensation, the inspections of the outsourced infrastructure and that government officials have declared that they have completed the analysis of the dossier.

After the milleproroghe, Aspi’s rating plummeted at the “junk” level, while markets are increasingly concerned. The Cdp itself, Atlantia points out, “has not deemed it necessary to implement any disbursement so far for a line of credit for which 1.3 billion remain unused today”. Aspi has asked the banks for loans with a state guarantee of 1.2 billion, but after the sortie of Buffagni the road appears to be blocked. So much so that the dossier would not even have arrived on the Sace table.

But since “the devil is hiding in the details”, it is necessary to carefully read a passage of the Atlantean release at first sight anodyne. The provisions given to Aspi are stated «without prejudice to its right to make use of all the conventional instruments for its own protection within the times and in the manner envisaged». What it means is easy to say. The concession foresees that in case of modification of the contract the concessionaire has 6 months to accept it or not. So Aspi has until June 30 to drink the bitter glass of the Milleproroghe or return the concession and, therefore, the motorway network. However, by asking, Atlantia’s lawyers argue, the relative compensation for the pre-Milleproroghe value, ie the “old” 23 billion euros. The end result would be a giant litigation between the Benettons and the state to the delight of lawyers.

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