(Updated with context)
MILAN, Aug 31 (Reuters) – The Italian government has chosen the consortium formed by the investment fund Certares and the airlines Air France-KLM and Delta to enter into exclusive negotiations for a majority stake in the company ITA Airways (formerly Alitalia), announced the Italian Treasury on Wednesday in a press release.
Italy’s new national airline had been the subject of a competing bid from German carrier Lufthansa, associated with shipping giant MSC.
Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA), which employs 2,300 people and has a fleet representing less than half of that operated by Alitalia, was created on October 15 to replace the former national company, shaken by a series of restructuring in 75 years of existence.
After trying in vain to sell Alitalia to private investors, Rome ended up giving it up in 2020 in the face of the disastrous consequences of the coronavirus pandemic for the aviation sector and decided to create a new company.
Last January, an Italian newspaper reported that Lufthansa was preparing to take a 40% stake in ITA Airways, but the deal announced at the time as imminent never materialized.
In May, Reuters had learned from a source familiar with the matter that the German company had reduced its offer of participation to 20%, that of the shipowner MSC to rise to 60%.
Air France-KLM and Delta Airlines had in the meantime informed the Italian government of their interest in taking a stake in ITA Airways, the two companies, with which Virgin Atlantic was associated at the time, saying that they ready to work with the management of the Italian company to deepen their cooperation.
The Italian government finally retained the proposal formulated by the Franco-Dutch company, already in competition with Lufthansa with a view to a possible takeover of Alitalia before its liquidation, and its partners. (Report Francesco Zecchini and Giuseppe Fonte, French version Myriam Rivet and Tangi Salaün, edited by Jean-Stéphane Brosse)