February 1, 2017 / 4:45 PM / in 10 months

Atlantia mulls bid for Mexican toll road operator RCO - sources

MILAN/ROME, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Italy’s Atlantia is working on a bid to buy a majority stake in a Mexican toll road operator as the infrastructure group presses ahead with plans to grow outside its home market, three sources close to the matter said.

The group may table a joint bid with several Mexican partners to acquire 51 percent of Red de Carreteras de Occidente (RCO) from Goldman Sachs, one of the source said, but added recent tensions between Mexico and the United States could still play a role in the final decision to go ahead.

Diplomatic relations between the United States and Mexico have soured fast this month after U.S. President Donald Trump insisted Mexico pay for a new border wall, pushing Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto to cancel a U.S. trip.

Trump has also pledged to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement trade deal with Mexico and Canada.

If the deal goes through, Atlantia could spend as much as 650 million euros ($699 million) for its part of the stake, the same source said.

Atlantia is looking to boost its share of core profit from overseas operations to 50 percent in 2020 from the current 25 percent.

In 2015 the company posted earnings before interests, tax, amortization and depreciation of 3.2 billion euros.

The group’s main assets are Autostrade per l‘Italia, Italy’s biggest highway network, and Aeroporti di Roma, the company that runs Rome’s airports.

Last year it bought a majority stake in France’s Nice Cote d‘Azur airport and a stake in the operator of Venice airport SAVE. ($1 = 0.9304 euros) (Reporting by Francesca Landini and Stefano Bernabei)

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