Acquisition of ITA Airways: the offer of Certares and Air France is maintained, to the detriment of MSC and Lufthansa

Acquisition of ITA Airways: the offer of Certares and Air France is maintained, to the detriment of MSC and Lufthansa

The Italian Ministry of Economy announced on Wednesday that it had favored this offer for the takeover of the public company with a view to opening exclusive negotiations.

The Italian Ministry of Economy announced on Wednesday that it had accepted the offer of the American investment fund Certares, associated with Air France-KLM and Delta Airlines, for the acquisition of the public company ITA Airways with a view to opening negotiations. exclusive. This surprise announcement is a setback for Italian-Swiss shipowner MSC and its German ally Lufthansa, which have so far been considered favorites in the race to buy Alitalia’s successor.

The successful offerwas judged as the most consistent with the stated objectivesby the state, which owns 100% of the company, the ministry said in a press release, without disclosing the amount of the proposal. “At the end of the exclusive negotiations, binding agreements will only be signed if their content is fully satisfactory to the shareholder public.“, stresses the ministry. According to the newspaper Il Messaggero, the Certares fund, specialized in tourism, has proposed the acquisition of almost 56% of ITA for around 600 million euros. The Italian State would thus maintain a 44% stake and would have two positions out of the five that will be on the company’s future board of directors.

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Giorgia Meloni’s warning

MSC and Lufthansa had proposed at the end of August to pay 850 million euros for 80% of ITA, an offer revised downwards compared to a previous one of 1,300 to 1,400 million euros made in January, due to the deterioration of the air market expected after summer. MSC and Lufthansa were targeting shares of 60% and 20% respectively, according to a source familiar with the matter. Air France-KLM is, together with the American Delta Air Lines, the commercial partner of Certares. The Franco-Dutch group had already had plans for Alitalia in the past. In 2009, it had acquired a 25% stake in the Italian company before gradually exiting it from 2013.

Unlike Lufthansa, Air France-KLM has its hands tied by the conditions requested by the European Commission in exchange for public aid received to overcome the Covid-19 crisis, which prevent it from taking a stake of more than 10% in a industry company. The announcement of the opening of exclusive negotiations comes despite a warning issued in early August by Giorgia Meloni, president of the far-right Fratelli Italia party, who had urged outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi not to rush a decision. Of the legislative elections scheduled for September 25, “everything can change and the relaunch of our national airline“it will be the responsibility” of the one who is going to govern“Warned Giorgia Meloni, who aspires to the position of head of the Italian government.

‘Only way to survive’

For the Alitalia heiress, “a marriage is the only way to survive, alone I would be condemned to die definitivelyAndrea Giuricin, a transport economist at the Bicocca University of Milan, explained to AFP. “Every day that passes loses money and sees its value reduced“, he points out. But the acquisition of ITA Airways “not a guarantee for your survival“, because after a busy summer in the airports, “many uncertainties hang over the European aviation sector in autumn, visibility is very limited“says Andrea Giuricin.

The publication of the bans will take place in a context of turbulence for the aviation sector, marked by the rise in kerosene prices, the war in Ukraine, the shortage of personnel and the resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic. ITA was looking for partners to strengthen itself especially on the long haul. The network of travel agencies controlled by Certares will allow it, in particular, to further consolidate itself in the United States.

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