Webuild – formerly Salini Impregilo - said that the acquisition gives the group greater scale as well as bringing together an array of technical and engineering expertise and expanding its geographic footprint. The combined group has more than 70,000 direct and indirect employees in 50 countries.
Combining the two is intended to create a stronger base in the home market and to provide the expertise and resources to compete better for projects anywhere in the world. It is also expected to safeguard hundreds of thousands of jobs in Italy through participation in the government’s efforts to relaunch the economy with infrastructure investment following the Covid-19 pandemic.
The operation concludes Astaldi’s restructuring after coming close to bankruptcy, and marks the most important acquisition under Progetto Italia, Webuild’s initiative to consolidate the fragmented construction industry in Italy in which many companies are under financial strain.
Progetto Italia supports the revival of the infrastructure sector in Italy and in 2020 has contributed to relaunching strategic projects worth more than €3.6bn, including the Verona-Padua high-speed railway, the Ionian motorway and the railway hub in Genoa.
Webuild CEO Pietro Salini said: “For Webuild Group, this is a moment that evokes a great sense of accomplishment. It opens the way for a bigger and more competitive group that looks at the future of the sector in Italy with optimism. Webuild’s acquisition of 65% of Astaldi allows us to complete the biggest operation under Progetto Italia and focus on the best business opportunities to be found in the market.”
He added: “We will be bigger, stronger, better organised and more efficient to compete better together in international markets and relaunch the Italian market for infrastructure.”
The company said that the acquisition will guarantee the continuation of work on projects involving Astaldi in Italy and abroad, safeguarding jobs. Projects include Line 4 of the metro network in Milan, the Naples-Bari high-speed railway and the Hurontario light rail transit near Toronto.
The acquisition was completed by means of a capital increase by Astaldi equal to €225m in cash and reserved for Webuild. The proceeds raised will finance Astaldi as an ongoing concern and will also be used in paying off creditors. Webuild financed its participation with cash raised from a capital increase in November 2019.
Salini said that the acquisition was made possible thanks to the contribution made by Italy’s main public and private institutions – CDP Equity, Intesa Sanpaolo, UniCredit and Banco BPM – and a large pool of investors. “This trust has allowed us to protect and create jobs, giving a boost to the entire supply chain and making the most of Italian know-how,” he said. “With only five projects in Italy, we have come to involve 5,000 small- and medium-sized businesses.”
He added: “We feel the obligation to modernise the country by unblocking and launching new projects that support sustainable growth over the long term in light of this incredible opportunity offered by European funds. It is an obligation that has acquired a sense of urgency, especially in this period. It can be an anti-cyclical act to relaunch the economy after the Covid-19 pandemic and create jobs and give hope to young people. In this way, we can help Italy open a new season of sustainable reconstruction, from mobility to water infrastructure, from hydrogeological projects - in a country that lives from one emergency to another rather than plan ahead – to the maintenance of public works and the construction of green buildings, hospitals and schools.”