Min­is­ter: Italy could own about 15 pct of new Al­i­talia

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Business -

ITALY could hold around 15 per­cent of a re­launched Al­i­talia, with the new com­pany hav­ing up to two bil­lion eu­ros ($2.3 bil­lion) of cap­i­tal, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Luigi Di Maio said on Fri­day.

“If France has 14.3 per­cent of Air France ... we can imag­ine a sim­i­lar level of par­tic­i­pa­tion (in Al­i­talia),” Di Maio said in an in­ter­view with fi­nan­cial daily Il Sole 24 Ore.

The ini­tial cap­i­tal for the flag­ship car­rier would be be­tween 1.5 bil­lion and 2 bil­lion eu­ros and the new com­pany would have to “pu­rify it­self of ev­ery­thing that has not worked un­til now”, he said.

Al­i­talia was put un­der spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tion last year and Rome has since been look­ing for a buyer. The sale was sup­posed to be con­cluded by April, but the dead­line was moved to the end of Oc­to­ber due to a gen­eral elec­tion in March and a change of govern­ment. Di Maio, who is also in­dus­try min­is­ter, said the Ital­ian rail­ways - Fer­rovie Dello Stato (FS) - and one or more in­ter­na­tional in­dus­trial part­ners would also be in­vestors. Asked if China East­ern or Delta Air­lines could be the in­ter­na­tional part­ners, he said: “I nei­ther con­firm nor deny.” On Thurs­day, Delta de­clined to com­ment on mar­ket ru­mours it is in­ter­ested in the Ital­ian car­rier. The chief ex­ec­u­tive of FS said the group had not been con­tacted over a fi­nan­cial in­volve­ment in the air­line, a spokesman said.

Ital­ian state lender Cassa De­positi e Prestiti could help fund the ac­qui­si­tion or hir­ing of a new fleet of planes. “The theme goes es­pe­cially for long-term routes that we are fo­cus­ing on,” Di Maio said.

He said if state-con­trolled com­pa­nies like oil ma­jor Eni , the Post Of­fice and de­fence com­pany Leonardo wanted to give a hand on cer­tain Al­i­talia as­sets “it would be in­ter­est­ing”.

A bind­ing of­fer, or a se­ri­ous ex­pres­sion of in­ter­est, for Al­i­talia will ar­rive by end of the month, Di Maio fore­cast. Di Maio is due to meet Al­i­talia’s main labour unions later on Fri­day over the fu­ture of the car­rier.

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