The completion of negotiations between Mef and Lufthansa for the sale of 40% of Ita Airways’ shares – the initial move towards the privatization of the national airline – is imminent. The deadline for the exclusive dialogue between the Treasury, which owns 100% of the former Alitalia, and the German aviation giant is approaching.
According to reports, the announcement of the negotiation’s final outcome may be delayed by a few days due to the April 25 holiday, but should be revealed no later than the first few days of May. However, there has been a positive outlook throughout the week regarding the potential success of the transaction, with only final details left to be worked out, possibly with a price range of 250 to 300 million euros.
Minister of Economy Giancarlo Giorgetti expressed his optimism yesterday, stating that “negotiations with Lufthansa are well-advanced” and that “we will have an outcome, I hope favorable, in a few days.”
According to the CEO of Ita Airways, the transaction has been defined. In the days prior, the president of Ita Airways, Antonino Turicchi, went even further by stating that
“the operation, in its structure, is defined, and any changes being proposed are merely part of the negotiation process. The path has been set.”
In late March, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr traveled to Rome to attend a summit at the MEF with Minister Giorgetti. During the meeting, the industrial plan, which will determine Ita’s development in terms of fleet, network, and strategic objectives, was presented and shared between the two carriers.
In 2022, Ita Airways recorded a net loss of 486 million euros, but more than 280 million euros of that can be attributed to the negative impact of the deteriorating macroeconomic scenario. The accounts were also burdened by the rising cost of fuel. However, revenues amounted to 1.576 billion euros, and the company had over 400 million euros in cash.
After a year and a half of operation, the airline that rose from the ashes of Alitalia is poised to become part of the third-largest civil aviation group in the world, and the largest in Europe, which currently includes several northern European operators in its portfolio, such as Austrian, Swiss, Brussels Airlines, and Eurowings.
Lufthansa has been expanding its operations in Europe with the ambition to continue doing so in the future. In a recent bilateral meeting in Lisbon, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa discussed the possibility of Lufthansa acquiring a stake in the Portuguese airline, TAP.
Last December, the Italian government issued a decree seeking a buyer capable of acquiring an initial stake in the airline and subsequently holding control or a majority of the capital. The sale of state participation can be carried out in phases, with the MEF maintaining the power to supervise the industrial plan.
After five months, the completion of the transaction seems to be nearing, barring any last-minute surprises or unforeseen events.