Italy’s largest motorways concessionaire, Autostrade per l’Italia, came under furious attack from senior politicians today after its parent company Atlantia said it would be owed substantial compensation if its concession was removed following the collapse of the Morandi bridge in Genoa.
From the top of their full wallets (and their empty hearts) they should apologise and give us the names of those who are responsible for the disaster and must pay. We’re not interested in anything else– Matteo Salvini, Interior Minister and Deputy Premier
As the death toll appeared to level at 39, Atlantia SpA issued a statement saying ministers’ stated intention to revoke the concession lacked "any verification of the material causes of the accident", and that "an indemnification payment equal to the residual value of the concession" would be due in case of early termination, "according to the rules and procedures".
Among those reacting with fury was Interior Minister and Deputy Premier, Matteo Salvini (pictured), who called the company heartless.
"Atlantia (Autostrade) once again manages to talk about money and business, asking for more millions from the Italian people in the case of the government’s revocation of the concession after the Genoa disaster, with incredible cheek and with dead people who are still yet to be identified," Salvini wrote on Twitter.
"From the top of their full wallets (and their empty hearts) they should apologise and give us the names of those who are responsible for the disaster and must pay. We’re not interested in anything else," he added, reports Italian news agency, Ansa.
"Shameful" was the term used by Salvini’s co-Deputy Premier and Labour and Industry Minister, Luigi Di Maio.
"Autostrade say that they are due the earnings from the contract that we will axe," Di Maio said, reports Ansa. "It is shameful that once again they are thinking of profits and stock exchange numbers."
View of the sheared bridge from the valley floor (Italian Ministry of the Interior, via Twitter)
Today in Milan, Atlantia’s shares plunged 25.1% in early trading, wiping around €4.85bn from its market capitalisation, after Di Maio reiterated his intention to revoke the highways company’s concession, Ansa reported.
Atlantia owns the concession for the A10 toll motorway which crosses over the Morandi bridge, of which a 200m section gave way on Tuesday, 14 August, causing dozens of cars and trucks to plunge around 45m to the river valley below.
Experts have expressed doubts over whether the government can revoke Autostrade per l’Italia’s concession without invoking penalties of many billions of euros.
The company has said it can show it respected the conditions of its concession for the Genoa highway, saying it carried out regular maintenance and safety checks, reports Ansa.
Its statement released today said: "With reference to the announced beginning of the procedure aiming at the termination of the concession of its subsidiary Autostrade per l’Italia, Atlantia SpA notes that such announcement was publicly communicated lacking a specific default notice and without any verification of the material causes of the accident.
"Whilst in case of early termination or revocation of the concession – according to the rules and procedures provided for the same concession agreement – an indemnification payment equal to the residual value of the concession is due to the concessionaire, net of any penalty if and to the extent applicable, the modality of such announcement may have impacts on the Atlantia shareholders and bondholders.
"Atlantia keeps supporting Autostrade per l’Italia in its debate with the Government Institutions in such a sensitive moment, with the aim also of protecting the interests of its shareholders and bondholders by means of a correct and timely information to the market."
Top image: Italy’s Interior Minister and Deputy Premier, Matteo Salvini, speaking to reporters on 16 August (screen grab tweeted by Salvini)