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Atlantia picks Partners Group for talks on Telepass sale

By Francesca Landini and Stephen Jewkes

MILAN, Aug 7 – Italy’s Atlantia said on Friday it had picked private equity firm Partners Group to start exclusive talks for the sale of a 49% stake in its toll-road payment business Telepass.

In a statement confirming what sources earlier told Reuters, the Benetton-backed infrastructure group said the exclusivity period with Partners Group would last until Sept. 30.

Sources said the offer by the private equity firm valued the whole of Telepass at more than 2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) including debt.

A consortium of Warburg Pincus and Neuberger Berman had also tabled an offer to buy into Telepass, but one of the sources said Partners Group had made the highest bid.

A second source said it had also presented a stronger business plan with better governance terms.

Atlantia, which owns 88% of motorway company Autostrade per l’Italia, said the deal would help speed up transformation of its Italian tollroad payments unit into a European multi-service platform for consumers and businesses.

The auction, which is led by Banca IMI, Goldman Sachs and Mediobanca, gained new momentum in June after being delayed last year due to a dispute between Atlantia and the Italian government over the group’s motorway concession.

($1 = 0.8487 euros) (Reporting by Francesca Landini and Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Nick Macfie and Andrew Cawthorne)

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