Atlantia lands in Bologna with €165m airport swoop

The acquisition comes as shareholders also approved a €3.8bn capital increase to aid its offer for Abertis.

Atlantia has become the second-largest shareholder in Bologna Airport after purchasing a 29.3 percent stake in the concession company in a deal worth €164.5 million.

The Italian transport investor bought the stakes from two shareholders, acquiring 17.8 percent from UK-based investment firm Amber Capital for €99.9 million and a further 11.5 percent from the US-based Strategic Capital Advisors for €64.6 million, with shares valued at €15.50 each.

Atlantia joins the Chamber of Commerce of Bologna (37.5 percent) and Italian infrastructure fund F2i (10 percent) as major shareholders of the hub. The airport is Italy’s sixth largest and recorded an 11.5 percent increase in passenger numbers last year, bringing its total to 7.7 million, while it has since seen a 6.6 percent growth in passengers in the first half of this year. The airport concession recorded a 2016 EBITDA of €28.2 million, an 18.1 percent swing on the previous year.

“Our investment in Bologna Airport, although purely financial, recognises the great potential of development of the airport,” said Giovanni Castellucci, Atlantia’s chief executive. “The completion of the people mover with the Bologna high-speed train station will further increase the competitiveness of the airport at other destinations in central-northern Italy. We hope to contribute to the further development of the company with the support that a large operator such as Atlantia can offer.”

Despite the bulk of the company’s revenues originating from its toll road operations, Atlantia has been ramping up its airport activities recently, completing deals last year to invest in airports in Venice and Nice.

Atlantia’s investment in the Bologna site comes after shareholders yesterday approved a capital increase of €3.8 billion to help finance the company’s €16.3 billion offer for Spanish toll road operator Abertis. That bid, however, has faced fresh competition, with Spanish developer ACS weighing up an offer after airport operator Aena also expressed its interest.

Standard & Poor’s said in June that Atlantia might need to divest some of its airport stakes to maintain its rating if it won the Abertis race.