Benetton Should Sell Autostrade or Lose License, Di Maio Says

Foreign Affairs Minister Luigi Di Maio warned the Benetton family that it needs to close the sale of a majority stake in its toll-road unit Autostrade per l’Italia SpA or face the revocation of its license to operate toll roads in Italy.

“Either the Benettons leave the company ownership or they will face immediate revocation,” Di Maio said Sunday during a conference of his Five Star Movement party.

The ultimatum follows the arrest of some former managers of the company earlier this week as part of a probe related to the collapse of a bridge in Genoa managed by the company. The Five Star Movement, the biggest party in Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s governing coalition, has campaigned for over two years to punish Atlantia for the deadly accident in 2018.

Five Star has backed a plan to strip Autostrade’s parent company, Atlantia, of its highway licenses, which generate more than 2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) in operating profit every year. The pressure on the company to sell the toll-road holding to an investor group led by state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti SpA has increased following arrests that included Giovanni Castellucci, who built Autostrade over two decades before resigning last year.

Italy Pushes Benettons on Autostrade Deal After New Arrests (1)

Atlantia last month rejected a bid from Cassa Depositi and Macquarie Group Ltd. and Blackstone Group Inc. that valued the stake at between 8.5 billion euros and 9.5 billion euros, excluding legal claims. Talks are continuing in a bid to reach agreement on a binding offer by a Nov. 30 deadline.

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