The relationship between the Benetton family and Florentino Pérez, the president of Real Madrid, is truly unique. Interesting relationship. Full of skirmishes, fights, cheap hits and surprise make-ups. It seems to be experiencing conflict almost in the Renaissance, as it is difficult to distinguish between reality and fiction. Even if the reason for the quarrel is always clear: work. In recent weeks, another chapter in this story has occurred. To better understand the problem, it is worth stepping back. At the end of a torturous and exhausting process that lasted more than a year, In 2018, Abertis, the highway infrastructure giant, was acquired by Atlantia (now Mundys), controlling 50% of the capital plus one share. The rest belongs to Perez (through Acs and Hochtief). The game definitely seemed to be over. But for the Iberian businessman, the last word does not exist. So a kind of gang war began between the companies. Andrea Mangoni, CEO of Mundys, said shareholder agreements written five years ago had proven ineffective and led to “years of inertia”. For this reason, «we are facing a very important break. The bet is that more balanced agreements can paradoxically allow the company to grow.” The agreement provides that both partners will have six representatives on the board of directors, Mundys will continue to appoint the chief executive officer and general secretary while Acs will be responsible for the president and chief financial officer. The 56% interest that Acs owns at Interstate SH288 in Houston will then be transferred to Abertis. “We are here to grow,” continued Mangoni, “and we anticipate operations that will strengthen our leadership. We’ve only written the first chapter of the story.”
Florentino Perez, brick and soccer
The group is actually working on other projects. The first is Attiki Odos, the infrastructure that connects the city of Athens with the airport. Moreover, “We will bid for a highway in Puerto Rico.” So it is likely that Apperts will support some capital increases in the coming months. In any case, the agreement repaired a wound that was likely to become infected. But who is Perez? In Spain his nickname is “El Tiburon”, the Shark. It sniffs its prey and attacks when it sees a weak spot. The 76-year-old businessman, after graduating as a management engineer from the Madrid Polytechnic Institute, was Director of Infrastructure at the Ministry of Transport. He then moved into politics, running in 1986 for the Reformed Democratic Party (Prd). The fluctuation in opinion polls was his luck. He threw himself into the business, where his dense PR network was crucial to his success. The number one volcanologist in the Blancos is above all a man of strength. His fortune was in the real estate bubble that swelled prosperity in Spain at the turn of the millennium. Through Acs-Hochtief, he built a construction empire with around 50 billion in revenue. Joining Real Madrid accelerated this race. Perez had already tried in 1995 to get into the presidency of the Blancos, but to no avail. But he did not give up. In 2000 he tried again and finally won supporters and voters. It became number one in a company that was heavily indebted at the time. A simple sleight of hand was enough to get the accounts back on track. Pérez managed to change its intended use (from green to real estate) in Ciudad Deportiva del Real along the prestigious Paseo de La Castellana. After that he sold the area to the municipality for 500 million and closed the circle with the concession given to Acs to build three of the four skyscrapers built in the area. The judiciary has repeatedly shed light on his ties to politics, with investigations from which he has always emerged acquitted.
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Perez’s attack on Aspi and Benetton’s defense
Another feature is that he does not like to lose. And so, three years after the defeat of Abertis, it closed a takeover bid jointly with international funds Gip and Brookfield Infrastructure to buy ASPI outright. View 10 billion. The plan called for a merger between Aspi and Abertis to create a highway champion. Pérez carefully studied the impasse created in Atlantia due to the long process of selling the Italian highways to the CDP and the various family disputes, which arose after the Morandi bridge collapse (August 14, 2018) that caused the death of 43 people. However, the Ponzano family was not found unprepared. In January last year, Edizione unanimously approved the transformation into a joint stock company and a change in governance. Alessandro Benetton has been appointed President and Enrico Laghi as Director. Various areas of intervention were assigned to Luciano’s son, the shareholder by seeking a direct and indirect share of 25% of the Edizione, on a par with the other three shares of the dynasty. More importantly, he believes that he participated with Laghi in formulating “the group’s strategic, industrial and financial plans.” At the heart of the new cycle are holdings that are strategic (Atlantia, Autogrill and Benetton Group) and whose fate will always be decided in a “collective” way. And he immediately understood that it was a turning point for the Venetian dynasty. Perez’ attack did not surprise them. Edizione, a 33% shareholder of Atlantia, has had relations with Blackstone for some time with the aim of strengthening its hold on the group. This also happened because with the closing of the Aspi file that was transferred to the CDP and collected 8 billion, a new stage was opened. Edizione rejected the Iberian advances and relaunched it by writing off Atlantia which it now controls by 57% while the other shareholders are Blackstone with 37.8% and Crt 5.2%. So the Spanish businessman had to overcome the decline again.
The new session with Mundys
Meanwhile, Atlantia changed its name (Mundys) and CEO. Born in 1963, Mangoni has a degree in economics and began his career with the Inter-American Development Bank. After a period at Acea, in 2009 he joined Telecom Italia as CFO and Chief Operating Officer of Sparkle. In 2016 he was named CEO of doValue and moved to Veneto in March. Mundys aims to become the world’s leading infrastructure group, with a particular focus on the Americas. More than three billion transits are made through its networks every year, while Italian (Fiumicino and Ciampino) and French (Nice, Cannes and Saint-Tropez) airports host more than 60 million passengers. The Abertis subsidiary is the platform in the motorway sector. It operates companies in Spain, Italy, France, Chile, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, the United States, Puerto Rico and India. During 2022, Mundys and Yunex won the contract, which are leaders in the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) sector, which use flow control platforms in more than 600 cities. Yunex, along with Telepass, are the two companies in the field of integrated mobility. Also in recent weeks, Telepass has taken note of the resignation of CEO Gabriele Benedetto. The selection was finalized after a long discussion with the shareholders. It should be noted that Benedetto’s departure is part of a scenario of managerial rupture within the Benetton galaxy: after Edizione’s top management changed hands, it picked new directors for Mundys, Autogrill merged with Dufry and Cellnex was recently headed by Marco Patuano. All while waiting for Perez to pull the classic rabbit out of the hat.
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