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Lufthansa 'remains interested' in ITA Airways

Italian government signals bidding process

By AFP - Nov 02,2022 - Last updated at Nov 02,2022

FRANKFURT — Germany's Lufthansa said on Wednesday it remained interested in taking over ITA Airways, after the new Italian government signalled the bidding process could be wide open again.

Lufthansa in August lost out in the race to buy Alitalia's successor when the then-government led by Mario Draghi selected a rival bid by US investment fund Certares, Delta Airlines and Air France-KLM.

But a second chance could be looming, after the economy ministry on Monday announced the period of exclusivity talks with Certares and its partners had come to an end and would not be renewed.

The Lufthansa group "remains interested in the Italian market", a spokeswoman told AFP. 

"We are monitoring the further sale process of ITA and remain interested in a true privatisation of the airline."

The new hard-right government in Italy, led by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, came to power after elections in September. 

Meloni had previously urged Draghi to pause the ITA Airways negotiations while the new government took shape.

Air France-KLM for its part said it had "taken note" of the economy ministry's announcement that the exclusivity period had ended. 

"The group is evaluating its options in the Italian air transport market and awaits further information from the Italian state," it added. 

According to Italian media, the Certares consortium had proposed buying nearly 56 per cent of ITA for around 600 million euros ($599 million).

The Italian state would retain a 44 per cent stake and have two of the five seats on the future ITA board.

Lufthansa and Swiss-Italian shipping group MSC had proposed to pay 850 million euros for 80 per cent of ITA.

State-owned ITA Airways replaced the loss-making national carrier Alitalia, which was put under state administration in 2017, after years of fruitless attempts to find a buyer.

The Italian state has spent more than 13 billion euros trying get the national airline back on its feet.

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