Lufthansa Group submits official bid for stake in ITA Airways
On 18 January 2023, the Lufthansa Group has announced it has officially submitted a bid to the Italian government to, initially, acquire a minority stake in ITA Airways. Later on, the Group wants to have the option to buy the remaining shares of the Italian airline when the Italian government decides to step-out completely. Although the press-release doesn't state the size of the stake, Italian media is reporting that the bid is for 40% of the shares for 300 million euros.
The Lufthansa Group and the Italian government will now enter into an exclusive period to conclude the deal. According to Lufthansa's press-release, Italy is the Group's most important market after their home markets and the US.
Earlier on the same day, Air France-KLM notified the Italian government it wouldn't submit a new bid for a stake in ITA Airways. It did stress, however, it would want to maintain a close commercial relationship, especially as ITA Airways is currently part of SkyTeam, the alliance of which Air France-KLM is also a member.
The Italian government has been trying to privatize ITA Airways for more than a year. During that year, the government received interest from Lufthansa Group, which began its bid as part of a consortium with shipping giant MSC, as well as from Air France-KLM, that partnered with Delta Air Lines and investment company Certares.
Last year August, the Italian government announced it was favoring a bid from Air France-KLM, which was offering to acquire 55% of ITA Airways for 600 million euros. The Lufthansa Group and MSC were reported to be offering 850 million euros for 80% of ITA Airways. AF-KLM and the government then entered a period of exclusivity to see if they could reach a final agreement. Eventually, this didn't happen, mainly due to the new incoming Italian government which had a different plan for the airline.
ITA Airways was founded on 11 November 2020 and launched officially on 15 October 2021. It was established by the government as the successor of financial troubled Alitalia. Since then, the airline has grown to a fleet of 66 aircraft, consisting of four Airbus A220-300s, seventeen A319s, 31 A320s, two A320neos, eight A330-200s, and six A350-900s.
Photo by Airbus.