Rome: Alitalia, whose 62 years as a state-run company ended in bankruptcy, begins its new incarnation Tuesday as a private company with Air France-KLM as a minority shareholder alongside a varied group of Italian investors.
The Franco-Dutch carrier, which withdrew a failed bid last year to buy the Italian airline outright, will pay €322 million ($431.29 million) in cash and equity for a 25% share in the new company, Alitalia’s new CEO Rocco Sabelli said at a news conference Monday after investors approved the deal at a board meeting.
Sabelli said Air France had a clear advantage in the bidding process because of its long-standing partnership in the Sky Team alliance and its earlier bid.
“The interest in the Italian market by the other bidders, including Lufthansa, did not translate into a real offer,” Sabelli said.
The group of some 25 Italian investors,including the chiefs of scooter maker Piaggio, the Pirelli tire company and a highway construction company, bought the bankrupt airline from the Italian government in a €1.052 billion ($1.41 billion) deal. That includes €625 million in Alitalia’s debt, which in the meantime has ballooned to at least €3.2 billion.
Roberto Colaninno, president of the so-called CAI investor group, said the Air France partnership will bring synergies of €720 million ($964.37 million) over the first three years. However, rules will prevent Air France from expanding its participation for the first four years. The deal requires regulatory approval.