Italy's Astaldi in bridge loan talks with Fortress to keep afloat - sources
ROME/MILAN, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Italian builder Astaldi
is talking to Fortress and other alternative lenders to
secure 70 million euros ($80 million) of immediate bridge
funding in a race to stay afloat, three sources said on
Italy's biggest infrastructure builder by sales filed for
court protection from creditors in September after being hit by
delays to plans to sell a bridge in Turkey.
"The 70 million euros is the first tranche of an overall
bridge package of some 200 million euros and will cover finance
needs to the end of next February," one of the sources said.
A 200 million euro loan would tide the builder over for
about a year, the source added.
A second source said talks with investment companies
Fortress and Sound Point Capital for the funding were ongoing,
adding that the overall amount of the loan could still change.
Fortress and Sound Point Capital were not immediately
available for a comment.
Astaldi has until Dec. 16 to present a rescue plan to the
court but is expected to ask for 60 more days to better assess
expressions of interest from potential partners.
Italian construction group Salini Impregilo and
Japan's IHI Corporation have both previously expressed
interest in Astaldi.
Salini said in November its non-binding offer was for
activities in the construction sector, adding it was analysing a
possible industrial integration with its rival.
One of the sources said Salini would present a new
non-binding offer with more detail by Dec. 15.
Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore said on Thursday that
France's Vinci was interested in certain contracts
Astaldi had. Vinci declined to comment.
Italy's construction sector has been dogged for years by
slow growth, cuts in government spending and overseas setbacks.
The country's third biggest builder Condotte SpA filed for
creditor protection earlier this year, while contractor Trevi
Finanziaria is restructuring debt.
The Italian government has pledged increased infrastructure
spending as part of its 2019 budget plans which have brought it
into conflict with Brussels for excessive deficit spending.
Astaldi had been hoping to sell its 33.3 percent stake in
the Third Bosphorus Bridge in Turkey to boost liquidity and
reduce debt, which was around 2 billion euros net end September.
But political turmoil in Turkey and a plunge in the currency
led to delays for a sale that had been one of the conditions for
launching a cash call of up to 300 million euros.
($1 = 0.8780 euros)
(Reporting by Stefano Bernabei, Paola Arosio and Stephen Jewkes
Additional reporting by Gilles Guillaume
Editing by Edmund Blair)
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