Amid a slew of problems
Italy could be on the verge of approving rules that would make it much easier and cheaper to revoke highway concessions. And that could be very bad news for Autostrade per l’Italia (ASPI), the private toll road operator that controls more than half of Italy’s aging toll roads and which is blamed for the collapse of the Morandi Bridge in Genoa in 2018 that resulted in 43 fatalities and left 600 people homeless. The regulatory uncertainty sent shares of ASPI’s parent company, Atlantia, down 10% to eleven-month lows this week.
Majority controlled by the Benetton family’s holding company Edizione, Atlantia is currently facing a criminal inquiry for potential negligence in the Morandi Bridge collapse. Atlantia happens to own the inspection company responsible for safety checks on the bridge. And those checks, it seems, were not very thorough.
Italian prosecutors recently widened their inquiry into suspected safety breaches to include more employees and viaducts than previously identified. The suspects include Atlantia subsidiaries APSI and Spea Engineering, Atlantia CEO Giovanni Castellucci and Chairman Fabio Cerchiai. If found guilty of negligence, Atlantia could face massive fines. The company already booked provisions for the disaster in its 2018 accounts, with a negative impact on its EBITDA of €513 million.
Atlantia’s troubles were compounded this week when the roof of a tunnel operated by ASPI collapsed. Thankfully, this time there were no injuries, but the timing, just days before the parliament votes on the government’s proposed measures to revoke highway concessions, could not have been worse.
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