(Adds analyst comment, details)
By Francesca Landini and Elisa Anzolin
MILAN, April 11 (Reuters) - Italian travel caterer Autogrill plans to rejig its business structure, the company said on Tuesday, a move that drove its shares to a record high by fuelling talk it could seek to sell off units or acquire others.
The group, which runs restaurants and bars at some of the world’s busiest airports, said in a note it would strip out its Italian food and beverage operations from the holding company.
Such a move would transform the listed Autogrill into a holding company controlling a string of units, each with operations in a different country or region.
A trader at an Italian bank said the news could indicate the company planned to sell units or make acquisitions, although he said the firm had ruled out any change to its asset base for the time being.
The caterer, controlled by the Benetton family, has previously said it might be interested in a merger if it found the right partner.
In 2016, the company raised more than half its 4.5 billion euros revenues in the United States through its unit HMSHost, while sales generated in Italy were less than 1 billion euros.
In recent years, the company has been reshaping operations to boost its presence at U.S. airports while streamlining its European business.
Last year, it bought Stellar Partners, a U.S. airport convenience retailer, and CMS, which runs restaurants at Los Angeles and Las Vegas airports.
Autogrill shares closed 8.2 percent up, outperforming a European food and beverage index that gained 0.12 percent. (Additional reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Edmund Blair)