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MSC Seeks Leading Role in Deal for ITA Airways

Reuters
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January 27, 2022
Reuters

ROME, Jan 27 (Reuters) – Shipping company MSC, which has teamed up with Lufthansa to potentially bid for ITA Airways, wants a majority stake in the successor to Alitalia and to run the airline itself, its chairman was quoted as saying on Thursday.

“The main point is to have the majority of ITA Airways. (Lufthansa) can enter as a commercial partner or minority shareholder,” Gianluigi Aponte, founder and chairman of MSC, the world’s leading shipping company, told daily Corriere della Sera.

He added MSC would want to manage ITA and would not be a “sleeping partner.”

On Monday MSC, controlled by the Aponte family, and Lufthansa said they were interested in buying the majority of ITA and had asked for a 90-day exclusivity period to study a deal.

Aponte said MSC would not want to change ITA’s management, which he described as “great,” but would rather sit on the board.

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In a separate report in daily Il Messaggero, Aponte was quoted as saying it was “likely” ITA could be worth up to 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion) and that MSC would verify the value as soon as it gained access to the necessary documents.

“We are ready, and the deal could be closed earlier, much earlier than the 90 days,” he was quoted as saying.

State-owned ITA, which has replaced cash-strapped Alitalia and started flying in October, has been looking for equity partners.

If the Italian government gives the green light, ITA’s management will examine details of the expression of interest and decide whether to enter exclusive talks with the two partners.

Geneva-headquartered MSC, which has freight and logistics and passenger divisions – with brands MSC Cruises, SNAV and Grandi Navi Veloci – aims to create synergies with ITA in the cargo and cruise businesses.

In December, the privately-owned group made a 5.7 billion- euro offer to French billionaire Vincent Bollore for his African logistics assets.

($1 = 0.8913 euros) (Reporting by Giulia Segreti Editing by Agnieszka Flak and Mark Potter)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2022.

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