(Bloomberg) -- Blackstone Group Inc. is exploring a bid for Italian infrastructure company Atlantia SpA, according to people with knowledge of the matter, raising the prospect of a potential bidding war with Spanish construction tycoon Florentino Perez.
The U.S. private equity giant is in discussions to team up with Italy’s billionaire Benetton family, which already owns 33% of Atlantia, to take the company private, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the details aren’t public. Shares of Atlantia jumped as much as 9% Wednesday after Bloomberg News reported that Perez is weighing a bid for the 15.7 billion-euro ($17.1 billion) company.
Deliberations are ongoing and there’s no certainty Blackstone will decide to pursue an offer, the people said. A representative for Blackstone declined to comment, while a representative for the Benettons wasn’t available to comment outside business hours.
The Benetton clan recently increased its grip on Atlantia by boosting its stake after the 8 billion-euro sale of the company’s Italian highway-toll unit, Autostrade, last year. That means any takeover would be difficult without the agreement of the Benetton family. A deal could also draw scrutiny from the Italian government.
The company has attracted interest from several infrastructure and private equity investors, people familiar with the details said earlier Wednesday, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information. Some of those firms would be eager to team up with the Benettons, while Perez could also try to bring them in as partners, the people said.
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