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Enrico Laghi, a former special administrator ofAlitalia SpA, is the leading candidate to replace Gianni Mion as chairman of theBenetton family’s Edizione investment company, according to people familiar with the matter.
Laghi, a professor of business administration at Rome’s La Sapienza university, would likely take over responsibility for negotiating the sale of a majority stake in toll-road unit Autostrade per L’Italia SpA, said the people, who asked not to be named citing the confidentiality of the talks.
The move follows an investigation into road safety at Autostrade that has led to the arrest of former executives. The highway unit is owned by the Benettons’ Atlantia SpA.
A spokesman forEdizione was not immediately available for comment. The news was first reported by Italian daily La Repubblica.
The Italian government is ramping up pressure on Atlantia to finalize a deal to sell Autostrade following scrutiny of its safety measures. The toll-road operator could again face a costly legal battle over possibly having its concession revoked, government officials said last week, an option they had previously said was off the table.
Giovanni Castellucci, who built Autostrade over two decades before resigning last year, is under house arrest along with two other former managers. Three current executives at the company are also under scrutiny.
Castellucci and the others have been charged with fraud and jeopardizing the safety of transportation, according to a police statement. Prosecutors argue the managers were aware of deficiencies in highway barriers, an issue Autostrade claims was resolved in 2019.
The investigation will demonstrate that the former executive did not commit any wrongdoing, attorneys for Castellucci said in a statement.
The Five Star Movement, the biggest party in Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s coalition, has campaigned for over two years to punish Atlantia for its role in a deadly bridge collapse in Genoa in 2018.
While Five Star has called for the Autostrade unit to be stripped of its licenses to run highways, coalition ally the Democratic Party has taken a more moderate tack, backing talks to reach a compromise.
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