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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

Italian road conglomerate Altantia's shares hammered on bridge collapse

Stock falls 25 per cent on Thursday morning, after being indicated down as much as 50 per cent in pre-open trade, as Rome targets company

Morandi bridge in Genoa, Italy. The toll operator Atlantia's shares have taken a beating. Bloomberg
Morandi bridge in Genoa, Italy. The toll operator Atlantia's shares have taken a beating. Bloomberg

UPDATE:

Italy is weighing three options that range from stripping Autostrade per l'Italia of its entire motorway concession to fining the toll road operator in charge of a collapsed bridge, a junior minister said.

"The options we're looking at are the full revocation, the revocation of just the A10 section or a penalty, but a 150 million euro penalty is too low," Deputy Transport Minister Riccardo Rixi told Reuters over the phone.

Italy's biggest toll-road operator came under heavy stock-market attack on Thursday after Rome criticised it for a deadly bridge collapse this week, moving to revoke its concession and accusing it of failing to ensure the viaduct's safety.

An 80 metre long section of the bridge, part of a motorway linking the port city of Genoa with southern France, gave way on Tuesday in busy lunchtime traffic, sending dozens of vehicles into free-fall and killing at least 38 people.

Autostrade per l'Italia, part of Milan-listed international toll-road group Atlantia, operated the motorway. It has said it made regular and thorough safety checks on the 1.2 km long bridge, completed in 1967 and overhauled two years ago.

But the government has turned on Autostrade for the disaster, threatening it with heavy fines and demanding it contribute to the bridge's reconstruction though investigators have yet to identify the exact cause.

Atlantia shares fell 25 per cent on Thursday morning, after being indicated down as much as 50 per cent in pre-open trade.

Shares in other toll-road firms such as Sias and ASTM also fell, after deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio said the state would have to take over the country's motorways if concession-holders could not do the job properly.

Luigi Di Maio, Italy's deputy prime minister, speaks to the media as he visits the Morandi motorway bridge after it partially collapsed in Genoa, Italy, on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018. The Italian government called on managers at Atlantia Spa's highway-operator unit to resign following the collapse of the bridge that killed at least 37 people. Photographer: Federico Bernini/Bloomberg
Luigi Di Maio, Italy's deputy prime minister. Bloomberg

"It's not possible that someone pays a toll to die," Mr Di Maio said. "Those who were supposed to do the maintenance work did not do it properly. That bridge should have been closed before this tragedy happened.

"The profits that these companies make as monopolies anger many people ... a lot of money should have been invested in security, but instead it went towards dividends."

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Italian rescuers searched for a third day for survivors among slabs of concrete wreckage in Genoa on Thursday. Police have not said how many might be still missing in the rubble.

Experts and those who lived near the 50-year-old bridge have said the structure began to encounter problems within two decades of its construction. Pieces of concrete were falling off the bridge as long ago as the 1980s, one resident said.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte declared a state of emergency for Genoa, one of Italy's busiest ports, whose main land corridor with France has effectively been severed.

Giuseppe Conte, Italy's prime minister, center, arrives at the site of the collapsed Morandi motorway bridge in Genoa, Italy, on Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. The bridge on the main highway running down the Italian Mediterranean coast in the port city collapsed, and reports said at least 20 people died with others trapped in the rubble. Photographer: Federico Bernini/Bloomberg
Giuseppe Conte, Italy's prime minister. Bloomberg

Autostrade said it had relied on world-leading experts when making tests and carrying out inspections on the bridge and that these checks had provided reassuring results.

(FILES) This file photograph taken on October 9, 2017, shows the headquarters of the Italian infrastructure company Atlantia in Rome. - Shares in Italian infrastructure group Atlantia, which operates the motorway on which a bridge in Genoa collapsed, were suspended from trading on the Milan stock exchange on August 15, 2018. Atlantia's prime asset is Autostrade per l'Italia, which operates the A10 highway where a segment of the overpass collapsed, killing at least 39 people. Its shares had already plunged by more by 10 percent on August 14, before closing 5.4 percent lower at 23.54 euros. (Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP)
Headquarters of Atlantia in Rome. AFP

"These outcomes have formed the basis for maintenance work approved by the Transport Ministry in accordance with the law and the terms of the concession agreement," it said.

A source close to the matter said Autostrade per l'Italia would hold an extraordinary board meeting next week following the disaster.

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