March 5, 2020 / 8:39 PM / 24 days ago

UPDATE 1-Atlantia's unit delays results amid concession uncertainty

(Recasts to add confirmation)

By Francesca Landini and Stephen Jewkes

MILAN, March 5 (Reuters) - Autostrade per l’Italia has delayed the release of its 2019 results to April 27 to give it more time to evaluate the impact of a new rule that changes the terms of its concession, the motorway unit of Atlantia said.

The rule makes it easier and less costly for the state to revoke the company’s motorway concession. It also requires Autostrade to prepare a multi-year plan with new estimates of investments, costs and toll revenue by March 30.

Autostrade’s move will likely cause the postponement of Atlantia’s results, which were due on March 23, according to analysts.

Autostrade, which runs more than half of Italy’s highway network, is locked in a dispute with the government over its motorway licence after 43 people were killed in 2018 by the collapse of a bridge it operated.

Since the disaster, Rome has threatened to end Autostrade’s concession ahead of its 2038 expiry and last week it gave final approval to a new rule changing some terms of its motorway contract.

Benetton-controlled Atlantia and the government have made preliminary contacts to find a compromise over the future of the motorway licence, but there has been no apparent progress towards a settlement.

A government source told Reuters last month that Rome would insist on tough conditions to consider dropping its plan to withdraw the licence, wanting to set new rules on road tariff hikes which are less favourable to Atlantia and to force it to invest 4 billion euros on motorway maintenance.

Two sources close to the matter told Reuters earlier on Thursday that Autostrade could postpone its full-year results to try to resolve uncertainty over both its debt and its concession contract. (Editing by Mark Potter and Nick Macfie)

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