The privatisation of ITA Airways reached a milestone on 23 May when the interested parties officially submitted their proposals to ITA’s current owner, the Italian Ministry of Economics and Finance (MEF). Let’s see how the privatisation process is developing.

MSC-Lufthansa and Certares, arrivederci Indigo

At 23:59 on 23 May, the Italian Ministry of Economics and Finance (MEF) received the official proposals of the interested parties in the buying process of ITA Airways: the shipping company MSC, along with the industrial partner Lufthansa, and the American fund Certares, whose proposal is backed up by the proposed commercial partnership with Delta and Air France.

MSC-Lufthansa’s proposal has been identified as the most solid under a financial and industrial profile; MSC would acquire 60% of the airline, which could rise to 65%, Lufthansa would invest 20%, which could be lowered to 15%, while the MEF would retain the remaining 20% of the shares.

On the other hand, a privatisation process with Certares would not see any investment from part of foreign carriers; indeed, Air France and Delta have been identified as potential commercial, not industrial, partners. Even if willing to invest in ITA, before doing so, Air France would need to return the state aid received by the French government to cope with the Covid-19 crisis.

However, the Franco-Dutch Group has announced a capital increase of €2.26bn, which could be used, in part, to return the state aid and, therefore, invest in ITA. Nonetheless, before buying shares of the NewCo, Air France should bring on board KLM, which is not particularly in favour of a tie-up with ITA.

Finally, one proposal is missing from the one expected, i.e., that of the other American fund, Indigo Partners, specialised in investment in Low-Cost carriers (LCCs).

LH A320 taxiing. @ Marco Macca / Travel Radar
LH A320 taxiing. @ Marco Macca / Travel Radar

Which one to choose?

Considering the advantageous proposal offered by MSC-Lufthansa, one should wonder why the MEF is not ready to choose this over the Certares’ one. One reason might be that the purchase offer of Certares implies a double, public-private administration, even though the decree requires that the State should have a non-controlling share of the airline.

In the meantime, ITA financial and legal advisors, Equita and Gianni&Origoni, are analysing the proposals received last Monday and are preparing a list of questions for the interested parties, which are expected to answer by the end of next week.

AF B787 at stand. @ Diogo da Conceicao / Travel Radar
AF B787 at stand. @ Diogo da Conceicao / Travel Radar

MSC-Lufthansa ready to take on ITA capital increase

In 2022, ITA expects the second tranche of its capital increase, for a total amount of €400m. Lufthansa and MSC are ready to cover this sum together with the Italian State. On the other hand, Certares has already announced the capital increase would be entirely dependent on the Italian State.

Who do you think the Italian State should choose as ITA Airways’ new investor? Let us know in the comments below! 

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  • I don’t like LH taking another country next to its existing hub-countries. I’d rather see ITA back fully integrated into Skyteam as Alitalia has been.

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