Life as a startup may have its advantages. However, it does not seem to have yielded the privatization process results the (old) Italian government was hoping for when it comes to its new national airline. The new government has ended an exclusivity period initiated at the end of August for US hedge fund Certares, who had teamed up with Delta Air Lines and Air France-KLM for negotiations to acquire a majority stake in ITA.

As such, the future fate of the new Italian flag carrier is still very much an unwritten chapter. However, Italy’s new government, headed by Georgia Meloni, is reportedly set to restart talks with other hopeful ITA partners, MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company SA and Lufthansa. These negotiations are expected to take place in the coming weeks.

Sources familiar with the matter have told Bloomberg that reopening the bidding between the two rivals comes from the government’s aim to seek a strong industrial partnership rather than look for a purely financial investment. Going back to the drawing board for the deal would also reportedly allow the government to retain up to 49% of the airline.

Lufthansa A321neo in the sky

Photo: Getty Images

Meloni wants a say in how the flag carrier is run

Talks with Certares were initially intended to conclude on September 30 but were extended for one month. The old government had initially intended to privatize ITA Airways through a direct sale while retaining a minority, non-controlling stake in the initial stage. Hopes to have the deal done by June were, as we have seen, highly optimistic.

Before gaining the position of prime minister, Meloni had asked the outgoing administration to halt the sale of Alitalia’s successor as it was “important to keep a flag carrier.” She told Reuters at the time that,

“Everything can change following the vote and the relaunch of our national airline will be the responsibility of whoever governs.”

The ending of the exclusivity period comes only a couple of weeks after the board of ITA Airways stripped the executive chairman, Alfredo Altavilla, of his powers, instead awarding the task of negotiating the sale to the airline’s chief executive officer, Fabio Lazzerini.

Sources told Reuters that the majority of ITA’s board blamed Altavilla for slowing negotiations with Certares. Meanwhile, the fund was reportedly willing to pay €350 million ($341 million) for a 50% stake plus a share in the carrier. The offer also included a capital increase of about €600 million to be launched sometime after the closing of the deal.

Both ITA Airways and the Italian Ministry of Economics and Finance have thus far declined to comment on the matter of this latest chapter in ITA’s privatization saga.

Source: Reuters, Bloomberg

  • ITA Airways Airbus A330 in sky

    ITA Airways

    IATA/ICAO Code:

    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier

    Rome Fiumicino Airport

    Year Founded:


    Fabio Lazzerini



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