Salini Impregilo, the largest contractor in Italy, is reported to be considering a takeover bid for Astaldi, the second largest.
Italian newspaper Il Messaggero reported the rumours of a takeover, which the Reuters news agency later supported with quotes from unnamed sources, who said Salini was working with Bank of America Merrill Lynch on a "full or partial takeover" of Astaldi.
The Rome-based company has been in financial difficulties after its plans to sell a 33% equity stake in the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge over the Bosphorus in Istanbul ran into delays.
It was hoping to sell its holding for $462m to an international consortium of investors, however, the deal was hit by the political and financial turmoil in Turkey. As a result, Astaldi said the targets set in its 2018-22 plan were no longer achievable, and it filed in Rome for protection from its creditors while it tried to restructure its debt.
Astaldi, which last year posted earnings of €366m, now has 120 days to present a business plan to the court. Shares in the company fell from €1.38 on 20 September to €0.41 on 2 October, before rallying to €0.62 today.
Shortly after Astaldi filed for protection, Salini issued a statement saying it was "following closely the developments concerning companies operating in the construction sector abroad and in Italy, including the Astaldi Group, with the aim of evaluating every possible option consistent with its financial discipline objectives and creating value for its stakeholders". Â
It was not clear if Milan-based Salini is interested in the whole of the Astaldi or only parts of the business.
Salini is working with Astaldi on a series of Italian projects, including a metro line linking Milan to Linate airport and a high-speed railway line in the south.
Image: The Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge (Mrtzbln/Creative Commons)