ROME, Italy: Italy has announced plans to sell state-owned ITA Airways, the successor to Alitalia, by the end of June, after setting a deadline for bidding offers of 23rd May.
Addressing parliament, Economy Minister Daniele Franco said three prospective bidders for ITA Airways have been given access to the airline's financial data.
The bidders are shipping group MSC, working with Germany's Lufthansa Airlines, the U.S. Certares fund, in cooperation with Delta and Air France, and investor Indigo Partners, he added.
Under a government decree, Rome plans to privatize ITA through a direct sale, but it will initially retain a minority, non-controlling stake.
In January, MSC requested an exclusivity period of 90 days to finalize details of an acquisition, but Rome opted for a market-based procedure aimed at opening the process to other potential buyers.
"The outcome of the negotiations is not a foregone conclusion. We will examine the three offers in a transparent way. There is no decision on our part at present," Franco said, adding that a key factor is that the buyer must be at least 51 percent European owned.
In comments during its shareholders meeting this week, ITA said Lufthansa is interested in purchasing a minority stake, but the review of ITA's financial data would be important to confirm this preliminary intention.
Under an agreement with the European Union (EU), Rome can invest up to $1.42 billion in ITA by 2023, but a privatization deal would reduce the financial support granted by the state and limit the costs for Italian taxpayers.