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Italian motorway operators’ shares plummet after deadly bridge collapse

Italian motorway operators’ shares plummet after deadly bridge collapse
Italy’s Atlantia and other toll road operators faced a sharp sell-off on Thursday. Atlantia’s Autostrade per l’Italia unit manages the motorway that collapsed in the Italian city of Genoa killing at least 38 people this week.

The company failed to start trading on Thursday after falling 20 percent in pre-market trading. Shares in rivals SIAS plunged eight percent, ASTM lost seven percent. When Atlantia shares re-opened after an hour’s delay on Thursday, they were down 24.4 percent.

Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Wednesday that the tragedy “could have been avoided” if Autostrade per l’Italia had maintained the road properly. The Italian government will fine the firm €150 million and cancel its concession. “We'll let the investigators do their job, but we can’t wait for criminal justice,” said Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

“Our obligation is to ensure that everyone can travel safely. So, we will revoke the licence because there is no doubt... that Autostrade had the duty, the obligation and the commitment to ensure the maintenance of this viaduct and the safety of all those who travelled on it,” he said.

Atlantia has questioned the cancellation of its concession. “The announcement was publicly communicated, lacking a specific default notice and without any verification of the material causes of the accident,” the company stated.

The bridge, known as the Ponte Morandi, was built in the late 1960s and has undergone various redevelopment works over the years. The director of motorway operator Autostrade said the collapse of the bridge was impossible to predict, but its design has come in for criticism in the past.

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