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Italy Set to Approve Start of Process to Sell Airline ITA to MSC

Bloomberg
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February 11, 2022

By Alberto Brambilla, Daniele Lepido and Chiara Albanese (Bloomberg) —

Italy’s government is set to approve the start of the process to sell ITA Airways — the successor to Alitalia — as soon as this week, people familiar with the matter said, following an approach by Mediterranean Shipping Co. with support from Deutsche Lufthansa AG.

The administration led by Mario Draghi will discuss the sale of the state-controlled company at a cabinet meeting scheduled for Friday and is taking a positive view on a deal with MSC, the people said, asking not to be named discussing confidential deliberations. 

Shipping giant MSC made a formal expression of interest in buying a controlling stake in ITA last month and is seeking a 90-day exclusive negotiating period. The company’s plan includes bringing Lufthansa in as an industrial partner from the outset. Lufthansa could also eventually take an equity stake, the German airline has said.

Italian Shipping Magnate Makes Daring Attempt Into Passenger Aviation

A representative for ITA declined to comment. 

The divestment of ITA, after repeated failures by previous governments to sell Alitalia, would mark a major success for Draghi, the former president of the European Central Bank. 

The failed carrier racked up losses for decades and was only able to continue flying by being propped up with state aid. An attempt to sell the Alitalia brand last year failed to attract significant offers. 

MSC, founded by Gianluigi Aponte, is the world’s biggest container line by capacity. MSC has benefited from a surge in shipping fees during the pandemic, and it currently operates a fleet of 560 container vessels calling at about 500 ports around the world. 

The company also controls MSC Cruises, the world’s largest closely held cruise company, and owns a majority stake in port management firm Terminal Investment.

–With assistance from William Wilkes and Christopher Jasper.

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P

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