November 15, 2018 / 6:10 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Ailing Astaldi gets non-binding bid from Italian building firm Salini

(Adds details and background)

By Francesca Landini

MILAN, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Italian construction company Salini Impregilo said on Thursday it had presented a non-binding expression of interest for Astaldi, which has filed for creditor protection.

Astaldi, one of Italy’s leading contractors with more than 10,500 employees, filed for court protection in September after delays to the sale of its 33.3 percent stake in the Third Bosphorus Bridge in Turkey.

Last month sources told Reuters that Salini was working with Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Vitale & Co on options for a possible full or partial takeover of Astaldi.

Salini said on Thursday that its non-binding offer, which was presented to Astaldi and to court-appointed commissioners, was for activities connected to the construction sector and it was analysing a possible industrial integration with its rival.

Italy’s construction sector was one of the worst hit in Europe during the economic crisis, partly because of the relatively small size of its players.

Salini, which makes less than 10 percent of its revenue in Italy, is working with the Rome-based builder on a series of Italian projects, including a new metro line linking Milan to Linate airport and a high-speed railway line in the south.

Astaldi had been hoping to sell the stake in the Turkish bridge project to boost its liquidity and reduce debt, which stood at 1.9 billion euros at the end of June.

But political turmoil in Turkey and a plunge in the lira led to delays to a sale that was one of the conditions for launching a cash call of up to 300 million euros.

Astaldi, which had also been planning asset sales of almost 800 million euros, said in its creditor protection filing that targets in a 2018-2022 strategy plan were no longer achievable. (Editing by Alexander Smith)

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