Inauguration of the new bridge designed by Renzo Piano in place of the Morandi bridge.

MILAN — The Benetton family is set to relinquish its control over Italy’s main highway company, Autostrade per l’Italia SpA, or Aspi.

The Benettons’ family holding company Edizione has a 30.3 percent stake in Atlantia SpA, which has controlled Aspi for more than two decades. The board of Atlantia has agreed to sell the entire stake in Autostrade per l’Italia to a consortium formed by CDP Equity SpA, The Blackstone Group International Partners LLP and Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund 6 SCSp. CDP is controlled by Italy’s Ministry of Economy and Finances.

The deal, which come after lengthy negotiations and false starts, will be formalized on June 10 and is reported to bring 2.4 billion euros into the Benettons’ coffers.

The sale comes almost three years after the collapse of a section of the Morandi bridge in Genoa in August 2018, which caused 43 deaths, evacuations of hundreds of people, and heavy structural damages. Opened in 1967 and part of the A10 highway linking the French and Italian rivieras, the bridge was maintained and operated by Autostrade Per l’Italia.

The government had been threatening to strip Autostrade of its lucrative toll-road business since the fatal accident and accused it of neglecting maintenance of the bridge. Aspi is to pay a compensation fee of 3.4 billion euros.

The bridge, renamed San Giorgio, has been rebuilt on a Renzo Piano blueprint and was inaugurated last August.

The deadly collapse also became a battleground for political parties, all converging in turning Atlantia — and therefore the Benetton family — into the scapegoat responsible for the tragedy. Patriarch Luciano Benetton has gone on the record to condemn the Italian government’s “unfair accusations” at that time.

As per the most recent figures available, in 2019 Edizione revenues rose 36 percent to 17.9 billion euros, boosted by the consolidation of Abertis, leader in the management of toll roads and infrastructure. 

Edizione’s clothing and textile division represented 6.8 percent of total sales, ringing in at 1.23 billion euros.

Infrastructures accounted for 62.6 percent of the total with sales of 11.2 billion euros. Food services represented 30.1 percent of the total with sales of 5.4 billion euros. 

In 2019, Edizione’s operating profit totaled 1.9 billion euros, down 4 percent compared with 2018, impacted by the provision of 1.5 billion euros made by Autostrade per l’Italia linked to the alleged non-compliance dispute following the collapse of the Morandi bridge.

Edizione is owned by the four branches of the Benetton family in equal stakes through the following companies: Evoluzione, Proposta, Regia and Ricerca.