Sources say Benetton, Blackstone and Italy want to green light for Atlantia bid

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Sources say Benetton, Blackstone and Italy want to green light for Atlantia bid

Two sources with knowledge of the matter said that Benetton, Blackstone and Italy want to give the Italian government green light for Atlantia bid ROME Reuters -- The Benetton family and U.S. fund Blackstone have notified the Italian government of their takeover offer to get Rome's approval before its launch.

Rome has special anti-takeover golden powers that it can use to protect strategic assets, such as airports and digital infrastructure, when there is a change in ownership structure.

One of the sources told Reuters that the bid, which values Atlantia at 58 billion euros $60.4 billion including debt, was filed with the government last week.

The move came around the same time the two suitors lodged the bid prospectus with Italy's market watchdog Consob, Bank of Italy and Bank of Spain to get approval to launch the offer on Milan's stock exchange.

Three sources told Reuters that the bidders would likely kick off their formal offer in the second half of August or September.

The approval process is not expected to slow down after a change in the name of the investment vehicle for the offer was announced after protests on behalf of the victims of the 2018 Genoa bridge disaster.

Last week Italy's infrastructure minister said it was too early to say whether the government would exercise its special veto powers on the transaction, but he added that the government wanted to see the overall plan before making a decision.

In the case of Atlantia, golden powers apply to the group's Aeroporti di Roma unit, which manages Italy's busiest airport Rome Fiumicino, and the digital toll payment unit Telepass, which handles data on traffic and banking accounts of its clients.

The bid can be counted on the backing of the Benetton family's holding company Edizione, which owns 33% of Atlantia, and Italian banking foundation CRT, which holds 4.5% in the infrastructure group.

Atlantia has picked BNP Paribas and Morgan Stanley to advise it on the bid.