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Italy PM meeting with allies fails to break Atlantia deadlock - Metro US

Italy PM meeting with allies fails to break Atlantia deadlock

FILE PHOTO: A man looks at Morandi Bridge, before controlled explosions will demolish two of its pylons almost one year since a section of the viaduct collapsed killing 43 people, in Genoa

ROME (Reuters) – A meeting between Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and coalition allies on Wednesday to try settle a row over Atlantia’s motorway business yielded no progress, two government sources said.

Fresh talks on the matter are expected soon, the two people added, without giving a precise date.

The ruling, anti-establishment 5-Star Movement pledged to strip Autostrade per l’Italia of its lucrative concession to run motorways after the deadly 2018 collapse of a bridge it operated in Genoa.

The centre-left PD party, which governs with 5-Star, has been reluctant to deprive Autostrade of its concession, fearing it could lead to a large compensation claim against the state.

A spokesman for the prime minister’s office said later that the talks had been “useful” to review the “delicate dossier” and there would be further analysis of the matter over the next few days.

A resolution of the issue of the concession could clear the way for a 1.25 billion-euro ($1.37 billion) state-guaranteed loan which Autostrade has applied for to weather the coronavirus crisis.

The request for help during the virus pandemic triggered criticism last week from 5-Star members who are against the state guaranteeing funding to Atlantia, led by the Benetton family.

5-star wants either a revocation of the concession or for Atlantia to reduce its 88% stake in Autostrade so that the Benetton family loses control of the motorway operator, a party source said.

The government would back an acquisition of a substantial stake in Autostrade by infrastructure fund F2i and state lender CDP, the government sources said.

However, a third source close to the matter told Reuters that CDP was unwilling to take a stake in Autostrade before the dispute with the government was settled.

Shares in Atlantia closed up 3.7% at 15.09 euros.

(Additional reporting by Angelo Amante and Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Kirsten Donovan, Mark Potter and Gavin Jones)

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