The specter of insolvency looms over Autostrade per l’Italia, bondholders and 7,300 employees. The estimated impact of a possible withdrawal of the concession after the substantial rejection of the Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to Aspi’s proposal would in fact be 19 billion. And the market thermometer immediately penalized the title of the parent company Atlantia, which in a single day lost 1.68 billion euros in capitalization. These are decisive hours, so much so that Atlantia convened tomorrow in an extraordinary board of directors at the same time as the meeting of the Council of Ministers which it will have to examine and decide on the possible revocation. In the battle over the concession, Autostrade reiterated its proposal by making public the letter sent to the government and hoped that Palazzo Chigi would take “decisions based solely and exclusively on legal, technical, social and economic aspects”.
In order to avoid the withdrawal, it has placed 3.4 billion in investments, compensation and reduced tariffs, while the parent company Atlantia (Edizione, Benetton family, over 30%) is ready to drop from the current 88% to less than 51%, leaving room for the state through the CDP and thus winking at the most intransigent part of the government majority, the Five Stars. Of course, the markets do not believe in a painless solution for the motorway dealership. And the clouds have thickened over Atlantia, which has lost 15.19% to 2.36 euros in Piazza Affari. Bonds were also under pressure, among the sector’s hardest hit stocks. This is the case of the unsecured senior issue of € 750 million maturing in June 2026, which left 4 basis points at 88 on the field, recording the largest drop since last March 9. The similar 500 million pound stock maturing in June 2022 also went badly, which lost one point to 102, while the 750 million euro bond falling by February 2025 fell by 3 points to 92. The Equita analysts express their concern precisely on the value of Aspi and the airport (Adr), foreign concessions (Abertis) and toll systems (Telepass) subsidiaries, who underline that Autostrade’s capital increase for the Italy, “would dilute Atlantia without solving the holding’s 5 billion debt problem.” A withdrawal by applying article 35 of the Milleproroghe of the motorway concession, with a compensation reduced from 23 to 7 billion euros, would cause a default of 10 billion in Aspi.
“Considering – remember in Equita – that Atlantia guarantees 5.5 billion of the subsidiary’s bonds and has another 5 billion in debts” the debt overdraft would reach around 20 billion. An “overestimated risk”, however, that of the withdrawal of the concession, at least according to the analysts of Kepler Chevreux. The latter recall that “the procedure has not yet started” and would imply a “long process with an uncertain outcome and a large outlay for the tax authorities, up to 25 billion”. Disbursement that would be “difficult to sustain” and “before debt, penalties and penalties” to be paid by the concessionaire. In their view, “a 3 billion capital increase, as speculated in the press,” is not enough to dilute Atlantia below 51%. “The transaction should then be approved by all current shareholders, which include foreign investors Allianz ( 7%) and Silk Road (5%), which have pre-emption rights on the shares of Edizione. An operation, moreover, that should be done “at market conditions”. But here the accounts do not return much. Analysts estimate in The value of Atlantia is 11 billion, based on the assessment of 16 billion euros made by Allianz and Silk Road on the occasion of the purchase of their shares in 2017 and net of the 3.4 billion offered to the Government and 2 billion for the impact of Covid 19. A value far from what the stock exchange has decreed today, where the bar of capitalization of Atlantia stopped at 9.38 billion.