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Autostrade approves Genoa relief fund as the government imposes fines



MILAN (Reuters) – Italy's Autostrade per l'Italia has agreed on Tuesday to provide 500 million euros (572 million dollars) for the collapse of the bridge in Genoa, while the government plans to abolish the concessions pushes ahead.

More than 40 people were killed when a bridge of the A10 motorway between Genoa and the French border collapsed last week.

The governing coalition, consisting of the anti-establishment 5-star movement and far-right Lega, has blamed Autostrade for grave negligence and initiated formal proceedings to lift the toll road operator's concessions.

In his first board meeting since the disaster, Autostrade said his board would meet again in due course to find an answer to the government's move.

A court in Genoa will try to find out why the 51

-year-old bridge collapsed. Autostrade has said that it monitors the bridge on a quarterly basis as required by law, and has carried out additional checks by hiring external experts.

There was no further public comment on the cause of the disaster at the board meeting.

Autostrade, controlled by Atlantia, operates approximately 3,000 km of highways in Italy and accounts for more than 60% of its parent's core profits.

Equities in Atlantia, which have lost just over 27 percent since last Tuesday, closed 2.5 percent.

FILE PHOTO: The collapsed Morandi Bridge in the Italian port city of Genoa, Italy, August 16, 2018. REUTERS / Stefano Rellandini / Archiv photo

"The board voted an initial list of initiatives estimated at 500 million euros his own funds, "he said, adding that his plans to rebuild the bridge went ahead.

General Manager Giovanni Castellucci said last week Autostrade would set aside the 500 million euros for disaster recovery, including funding for a new bridge and to help survivors and people leaving their homes near the Viaduct for reconstruction have to.

On Tuesday Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told the Italian daily Il Corriere della Sera that the 500 million euros offered by Atlantia were a modest sum.

"You could quadruple or quintuple it in the meantime," he said.

Conte said his government is working on penalties it could impose on Atlantia for the disaster, adding that Rome has received alternative offers for Atlantis to rebuild the bridge without giving any further details.

Atlantia, controlled by the Italian Benetton family, received motorway concessions when Rome nationalized its highway network 20 years ago.

Some government officials have called for the network to be put back in the public purse.

Asked whether Rome plans to nationalize the business, Conte told Corriere that the government is considering the best way to satisfy public interest.

($ 1 = € 0.8744)

FILE PHOTO – Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte holds a press conference after attending the NATO summit in Brussels on 12 July 2018. REUTERS / Darrin Zammit Lupi

Reporting by Stephen Jews; Edited by Alison Williams

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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