Alitalia is up for sale, but who’s bidding?
After declaring bankruptcy in March 2017, the Italian flag carrier Alitalia is still on auction, struggling to find suitable bidders. Germany’s Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) , British low-cost carrier EasyJet and U.S. private equity fund Cerberus are among companies that have already been named as potential buyers, while it appears that Air France-KLM prefers to bid incognito.
The latest company to publicly express an interest in obtaining parts of Alitalia is the Hungarian low-cost carrier Wizz Air. “We are interested in the Italian market ... as far as Alitalia is concerned, we are only looking at the parts that are of interest to us, the short and medium haul; certainly not for the intercontinental flights,” admitted Jozsef Varadi, Wizz Air’s Chief Executive during an interview with La Repubblica.
Wizz Air joins three other major bidders, named on January 13, 2017 by the Italian Industry Minister Carlo Calenda. These include Cerberus, Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) , and EasyJet, although for the latter two cases there appears to be terms and conditions that apply.
Lufthansa’s (LHAB) (LHA) desire to acquire the Italian carrier is based on the condition that it undergoes a “major restructuring”, including cuts of jobs and fleet. "While recognising the valuable measures that have been undertaken to date... we strongly believe that there remains a considerable amount of work to be achieved before Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) would be in the position to enter comprehensively into the next phase of the process," wrote Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr sent a letter to Italian Industry Minister Carlo Calenda, according to ANSA news portal.
British low-cost carrier EasyJet is interested in Alitalia’s short and medium-range connections. Frances Ouseley, EasyJet’s director for Italy, told La Republica on January 23, 2018, that his company "is strongly focused on the short and medium range". The publication also notes that the Italian government is looking to preserve the entire network of Alitalia’s connections. Here’s where the Franco-Dutch carrier Air France-KLM comes in a picture, as it could bid jointly with the British carrier and take over intercontinental routes.
But if this option is likely remains a question. On the one hand, Air France-KLM appears to be interested in the troubled carrier. ANSA news agency reports that Air France-KLM had a meeting with Alitalia representatives over a possible takeover and was granted access to the data room of the troubled carrier in order to "have access to information it did not previously have".
On another hand, this is the second time within a month the rumor of EasyJet and Air France-KLM allegedly joining forces to take over the troubled Italian is circulating the news. Earlier this month, this idea was confirmed by Calenda. However, Air France-KLM responded to the news by releasing a statement on January 13, 2018, denying having made an offer. The airline claimed that “it has taken no part in the process launched by the Italian authorities to take over Alitalia”, also pointing out that “has not had access to any confidential information”.
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