“The way the whole story was managed, In my view, still leaves some big questions as for any future government intervention on regulated businesses,” Lorenzo Codogno, former chief economist of the Italian treasury and currently of LC Macro Advisors, wrote In a note.
The government “disregarded the risk of undermining the rule of law and producing long-lasting consequences on doing business In Italy.”
The original agreement, posted by the government on its website, also calls for a reduction of tolls, as well as a considerable program of investment and maintenance of the highways.
The government may not have counted on the fact that such factors — along with the company’s debt of more than 9 billion euros, and drastically decreased profitability this year because of the monthslong lockdown and reduced traffic on Italian highways — make Autostrade less appealing to investors, some experts said.
“It’s clear that the Autostrade that the state will own is the different from the one when the Benettons were inside,’’ said Giuliano Fonderico, professor of administrative law at Luiss Guido Carli University In Rome.
He added that it wasn’t clear whether the government, through the state-owned lender that will take the majority stake In the company, had the management skills to guide such a complex company. “It’s a legitimate question to ask,” he said.
“There’s this idea that highways are a chicken that lays golden eggs regardless of who manages them, but I think they’ll find that it’s more complex to manage,” Mr. Fonderico said.