Atlantia motorway operator: Not just active in Italy | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 16.08.2018
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Atlantia motorway operator: Not just active in Italy

Linked to the bridge collapse in Genoa, Italy's Atlantia toll road operator has come under enormous pressure, seeing its shares tanking in Milan. With activities in many countries, the firm has a lot to lose.

Atlantia is publicly traded on the Milan Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE MIB index. Among the conglomerate's largest single shareholders is the Benetton family, famous for its textile chain.

First of all, Atlantia has made a name for itself as a major operator of toll roads, expanding its business rapidly in recent years.

There's no doubt that the group's prime asset has been Autostrade per I'Italia, a subsidiary managing just under 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) of Italian toll highways directly.

Atlantia owns almost 90 percent of Autostrade per I'Italia, which was privatized back in 1999 and accounted for roughly two-thirds of the company's overall revenues last year.

A global player

In 2017, the conglomerate logged overall revenues of some €6 billion ($4.55 billion) and a profit of €1.4 billion, up from €1.2 billion in the previous year.

But that's not just because of its activities in its home country. As of 2018, the group also operates some 5,000 kilometers of toll motorways in Poland, Chile, Brazil and India.

In addition to that, Atlantia operates the Mount Blanc tunnel linking Italy and France. It's also the top shareholder in Getlink, which operates the Channel Tunnel.

Eurotunnel train (Getty Images/AFP/D. Charlet)

The Channel Tunnel is a vital under-the-sea transport link

Five years ago, the Italian group ventured into yet another field of activity by entering the airport management business and signing contracts for Rome's two aviation hubs in Fiumicino and Ciampino respectively.

The German connection

Atlantia is no unknown quantity in Germany either. In a complicated transaction scheme, it has teamed up with German-Spanish construction group Hochtief-ACS, with Hochtief seeking to buy Spanish firm Abertis for over €18 billion.

Abertis considers itself to be the top motorway operator of toll roads in over a dozen nations.

After the transaction, Abertis is to end up in a holding company, with Atlantia to own 50 percent plus one share of the joint venture.

Industry experts have indicated that Atlantia is also interested in operating Germany's road toll system for trucks, which has recently been expanded to go beyond Autobahn highways.

It's too early to tell to what extent Atlantia's expansion drive may be slowed down by the repercussions of the bridge collapse in Genoa.

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