Step back from the Benettons that opens the agreement on Autostrade per l’Italia. The agreement passes from the entry of Cdp with 51%, which will make it de facto reels a public company. And from an overall revision of the concession, from compensation to tariffs. It is dawn when, after six hours of very tense meeting and hard discussions, the Council of Ministers mandates Cassa Depositi e Prestiti to start, by 27 July, the path that should lead at the progressive exit of the Benettons, first falling to 10-12% of the shareholding, then with a further dilution to coincide with the listing on the stock exchange of Aspi. Ministers Roberto Gualtieri, who brought the company’s final proposal to the CDM table, and Paola De Micheli are given the mandate to define the other aspects of the agreement.
On the table the premier Giuseppe Conte to the last he holds the revocation weapon: “If the commitments made tonight are not respected, it will be revoked,” explains a minister. The latest negotiation between the Prime Minister and the Benettons takes place during the night, during a fiery Council of Ministers that sees the head of government squeezed between suspicions inside the majority, the irritation of Iv and an M5S that looks more like every day a volcano ready to boil. In Cdm Gualtieri, who describe not contrary in principle to the revocation but convinced that he can find a better solution, leads a new proposal by Aspi.
But this is not enough, and a long and very tough negotiation begins, which leads the company to send four different letters to the government during the night to perfect a draft agreement. Conte and also the Five stars, for the part of the corporate structure, immediately declare themselves dissatisfied: the gradual exit of Benetton will require too long a negotiation, according to pentastellate sources. “No division,” says a source of government Pd. But among the Dems themselves, the dossier brings tensions. And the climate in Palazzo Chigi becomes heavy. Skip a meeting of the heads of delegation that had been called before the CDM: they say it was Dario Franceschini who asked to meet directly in the Council, where De Micheli and Gualtieri also sit. The CDM is opened around 11pm and suspended shortly thereafter. This does not go down to Teresa Bellanova, who makes it a question of method: when Conte and Gualtieri meet to decide how to conduct the final negotiation, the head of the delegation of Iv, the only party openly against the revocation, reveals his irritation.
But it is above all irritation in the Movement to emerge during the long night of Chigi: it is also addressed – perhaps above all – to the premier, in a crescendo that makes some majority exponents hypothesize as possible even the scenario a summer turnaround. Beyond plots and suggestions, Conte plays a lot on the Autostrade dossier. The interview with Il Fatto Quotidiano marked a change of pace in his strategy. And, before the CDM, the premier does not change lines. “Either Aspi accepts the conditions that the government has already submitted to it or there will be revocation,” is the last warning with which Conte enters the Palazzo Chigi meeting. Also because, he says to his parents, “you can’t prevaricate”. The premier is not willing to take steps back on the cut in motorway tariffs, on the modification of article 35 of the Milleproroghe decree which reduces compensation in the event of revocation from 23 to 7 billion, on the indemnity to relieve the State from claims for compensation related to Ponte Morandi and on the right of withdrawal, for the future, in the event of serious breaches by the concessionaire, compensating only the non-amortized investments.
But the novelty that allows the negotiation to break free concerns the shareholding: the Benettons give the availability to the separation of Autostrade from Atlantia, to the simultaneous entry of Cdp into Aspi and to the subsequent listing on the Stock Exchange. The process, which according to government sources would take place in six months or a year, would take place in two phases: in the first CDP it would enter with 51% and there would be the spin-off which would bring the weight of the Benetton family between 10 and 12%, the threshold below which you do not enter the Board of Directors; in the second there would be the listing in which it should lead to a company with a high shareholder base, up to 50%, in which new shareholders could enter, with a market operation, further lowering the weight of the Benetton family. But on the time range of the release of the Benettons the M5S immediately shows an evident skepticism. “It is too long”, explains an authoritative source of the Movement. That, already in the afternoon, did not hide the irritation for the management of De Micheli, inserted – in the pentastellate hypotheses – in the farewell box in a possible reshuffle in September. A letter of March transpires during the day in which the minister pushed for an agreement and asked Conte to act but some of the Dems do not like it: «It is not the initiative of the Democratic Party», say from the party, while among the parliamentary ranks emerge different souls. Around midnight, when the CDM is suspended, the company’s proposal does not yet convince the government: “It is not enough,” said the premier. But it was decided to negotiate, to the end, to avoid the revocation: the negotiation with the “Sherpas” of the Benettons continues in parallel. At dawn in the Council of Ministers, after a croissant offered to all colleagues by Vincenzo Spadafora, we read the latest letter sent by the company: “It welcomes all government requests”, says a minister. The M5s asks to the last guarantee that Benetton really leaves the company. The revocation of the concession is not removed from the table, given that the technical aspects of the negotiation will have to be perfected, but it now seems very far away.
Last updated: 08:41
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