January 8, 2020 / 6:25 PM / 9 days ago

Italy govt, Autostrade exploring ways to resolve concession stand-off-sources

ROME/MILAN, Jan 8 (Reuters) - The Italian government and Atlantia’s motorway unit are exploring ways to break a stand-off over the group’s road concession which some members of the ruling coalition want to revoke, two sources close to the matter said on Wednesday.

A senior government official said there were contacts with Autostrade per l’Italia and the office of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was overseeing the issue, which has turned into a hot potato for Rome’s fragile coalition government.

A second source close to the matter spoke of “smoke signals” between the government and the company which were keeping open a communication channel through third parties.

Autostrade declined to comment.

The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, part of the ruling coalition, has made revoking Autostrade’s concession a priority, irking its centrist partner Italia Viva. The other main government party, the centre-left PD, has trod more carefully, appearing to favour a renegotiation of the concession terms.

Talks between Autostrade and the government fell through in November, when the parties failed to reach a compromise over a possible compensation payment and cuts to road tolls the government was requesting.

Autostrade has been under heavy pressure since a motorway bridge it operated in the northwestern city of Genoa collapsed in August 2018, killing 43 people.

Ahead of a decision on whether to revoke Autostrade’s motorway licence, the government recently passed measures that reduce compensation owed for the early termination of a contract if the concession holder is in breach of its obligations. (Reporting by Francesca Landini and Giuseppe Fonte; editing by Valentina Za and James Mackenzie)

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