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DLA in the driver’s seat as Italy’s Atlantia bids to create world’s largest operator of toll roads

DLA Piper and Gianni, Origoni, Grippo, Cappelli & Partners have picked up mandates as Italy’s Atlantia launched a bid of €16.3bn cash-and-share offer for its Spanish rival Abertis, in an effort to create the world’s biggest operator of toll roads.

Atlantia offered €16.5 per Abertis share, as its stock price has risen 8% since rumours of a merger started in April.

DLA and Gianni advised Atlantia as Spanish and international legal advisers, led by DLA corporate partner Iñigo Gomez-Jordana, who has acted for Atlantia since 2007. Gianni’s team on the deal was led by partner Francesco Gianni.

Abertis does not have a legal adviser at the time of writing, as the friendly takeover bid is still being debated with Abertis’ shareholders.

Credit Suisse and Mediobanca are acting as financial advisers to Atlantia, while BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, Intesa Sanpaolo and UniCredit are acting as debt advisers and Goldman Sachs has provided Atlantia with extra opinion on the fairness of the consideration from a financial point of view.

The merger would help tackle the key weakness of both Atlantia and of Abertis, which is concentration of assets in their respective markets, and would help diversify Abertis’ portfolio. Atlantia makes 75% of its profits in Italy.

In the past, Ashurst has advised Abertis on a €495m investment by a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority in Abertis’ Chilean toll road business, as well as Abertis’ €948m acquisition of the 50% interest in Chile’s Autopista Central toll road that Abertis.