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Italy’s Treasury unveils its new privatization timetable: ENAV IPO for the first half of 2016 followed by railway group Ferrovie in the second

by Celestina Dominelli

Italian air traffic control operator ENAV will debut on the stock market in an initial public offering (IPO) in the first half of 2016, followed by the privatization of national railways Ferrovie in the second half of the year, said Fabrizio Pagani, head of the technical office of the Economy Ministry.

Speaking yesterday at the Euromoney Italy Conference, Pagani confirmed the timetable for the new privatization deals that the Treasury intends to complete by 2018.

The most important transaction expected this year is the sale of postal company Poste Italiane, but the ministry is pressing ahead also with other operations. “We are completing the selection of the consortium of banks that will assist us in the process of privatization of ENAV, which will be an IPO, like in the case of Poste,” Pagani said, confirming that the plan is on track as recently announced.

Poste’s top managers – chief executive Francesco Caio and chief financial officer Luigi Ferraris – met yesterday and on Monday with investors in New York and London. The pre-road show offered the management the opportunity to provide details as requested by some North American funds and Far East sovereign funds. The series of meetings will produce an important feedback for the ministry as it assesses the shares to offer and their distribution between institutional and retail investors.

The next step will be the release of research by analysts of the consortium banks, expected at the end of September, which will allow analysts to contribute their first valuations about the IPO.

As for ENAV, the Treasury has contacted the banks that will manage the offering. The global coordinators have apparently been found (Mediobanca, Credit Suisse, Barclays), while the other banks of the pool are under consideration.

The top managers of the air traffic control operator (Chief Executive Roberta Neri and Chairman Ferdinando Beccalli Falco) are working on the industrial plan and, by the end of the year, they are due to meet with the banks to start preparing a timetable.

If the goal, as reiterated by Pagani, is to list on the stock market in the first half of 2016, a pre-filing with stock market regulator Consob should come in March in order to launch the operation before the summer.

The privatization of Ferrovie is expected in the second half of next year. The process has suffered several delays (it was originally planned for 2015, like Poste). The Treasury intends to proceed in the coming weeks with the presentation at a cabinet meeting of a government decree which, like in the case of ENAV and Poste, will authorize the sale to private investors and set its guidelines. Expectations are again for an IPO (amid speculation for a 40% stake), but the size of the disposal has not yet been decided.

The management would prefer to avoid breaking up the group, but in the past weeks Infrastructure Minister Graziano Delrio insisted that the railway network must remain public. The several options on the table are still under discussion.

In the meantime, the privatization of Grandi Stazioni, the division of FS and Eurostazioni that manages Italy’s main 14 stations (and two in the Czech Republic) is coming to a close. By the end of September, as indicated in the plan announced by the company led by Paolo Gallo, an extraordinary shareholder meeting will be held to vote the partial spinoff of the company ahead of the sale of the retail assets.