16 Sep 2019

Atlantia shares plunge as investors await Edizione board meeting

MILAN (Reuters) – Shares in Atlantia (ATL.MI) fell sharply on Monday ahead of a board meeting of its top investor Edizione, which a source said was expected to discuss allegations of falsified safety reports at the group’s road operations.

FILE PHOTO: A logo of the Atlantia Group is seen outside their headquarters in Rome, Italy August 31, 2018. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi/File Photo

Italy’s tax police said on Friday they had found evidence that safety reports for some viaducts operated by Atlantia’s motorway unit had been falsified or information omitted, with the aim of misleading transport ministry inspectors.

One employee at motorway unit Autostrade per l’Italia and two officials at maintenance arm SPEA were placed under house arrest as part of the probe, which follows the collapse of a bridge operated by Autostrade in the city of Genoa that killed 43 people.

Shares in Atlantia, in which the Benetton family owns a 30.25% stake through its holding company Edizione, had shed 8.5% by 1220 GMT, adding to a 8.4% drop on Friday.

At the weekend Edizione issued an unusual sharply worded statement saying it was dismayed by the revelations of the probe, which focused on several motorway viaducts other than the one that collapsed last year.

“In the light of the latest events, Edizione … will without hesitation and immediately take all necessary actions … to safeguard the credibility, reputation and good name of its shareholders and subsidiaries,” the holding company said.

According to a source close to the matter, the statement marked a “sharp change in the attitude of the Benetton family” towards the company and the way it has been managed.

The family has so far supported Atlantia’s long-standing CEO Giovanni Castellucci, who also served as chief executive at Autostrade per l’Italia until last November.

Castellucci and other top managers at Atlantia are under investigation, together with top officials at Italy’s transport ministry, in a separate probe into the collapse of the Genoa bridge.

The Genoa disaster last year put the company under heavy political pressure, with ruling coalition party the 5-Star Movement demanding Autostrade be stripped of its motorway concession, which accounts for one third of its core profit.

The Edizione board is due to meet at 1300 GMT on Monday for an already-scheduled meeting whose agenda has not been made public.

Editing by Jan Harvey

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Powered by WPeMatico

leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated. HTML code is not allowed.