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Company Watch - Alitalia.

Jan 8, 2007

Air France and Alitalia each own a 2 percent stake in the other. Air France declined to comment on the launch of the tender. Italian carriers Meridiana and Eurofly declined to comment on whether or not they would bid. Detailed requirements for Alitalia's buyers, such as maintaining minimum levels of service and national coverage, will be specified at a later stage, the Treasury said. Italy plans to conclude the process within six months, Economy Minister Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa said earlier this month. Should the competitive bidding process fail, Italy may also use a public offer or share swaps to cede its Alitalia stake, the Treasury said. It reiterated it would pick the winning bid based on its economic offer and the ability of its industrial plan to "develop and relaunch" the ailing airline. Jan 2, 2007

Alitalia Unions Wary After Meeting Financier. Trade unions representing workers at Alitalia remained wary on Tuesday after meeting with a little-known Italian financier who has expressed an interest in buying a stake in the airline. Jan 9, 2007

Investment bank Rothschild is working on a consortium of investors who aim to bid for a stake in Alitalia that Rome is putting up for sale, a source close to Rothschild said on Tuesday, confirming press reports. Asked whether the bank was looking at forming a consortium for the ailing airline's privatization, the source said: "Yes". The Italian government has opened the bidding process for the sale of at least 30.1 percent of its 49.9 percent stake in Alitalia and will accept expressions of interests until January 29. Several newspapers said on Tuesday the Rothschild-led consortium for the airline would include Italian as well as two US funds. Jan 9, 2007

Alitalia remains unprofitable after all efforts. Due to a legacy of purchasing choices made for political purposes, it operates five different types of aircraft built by as many manufacturers, multiplying maintenance and pilot-training costs. Due to local pressures and political indecision, the carrier also continues to operate out of both Malpensa and Rome's Fiumicino Airport. Most other airlines cut costs by using only one hub. Analysts have speculated on possible bids for the airline by rivals such as Air One and long-time potential suitor Air France KLM, but no leading contenders have emerged so far. Jan 2, 2007

Alitalia, which has a market capitalization of EUR1.37 billion (USD$1.81 billion), has not made an operating profit in the last five years. The last time it posted a net profit was in 2002, and that only after Dutch carrier KLM paid it EUR200 million to break an alliance. The privatization plan has drawn criticism from some quarters, however. A Lombardy regional government official on Friday attacked it for not specifying measures to protect Milan's Malpensa Airport, one of Alitalia's two main hubs. Since his appointment in 2004, Alitalia Chief Executive Giancarlo Cimoli repeatedly clashed with the carrier's 10 unions as he cut one-fifth of the workforce and split the carrier in two, putting the services and maintenance units into a separate company called AZ Servizi with the aim of selling them. Jan 2, 2007

Italy Opens Bidding For Alitalia. Italy has opened the bidding process for state-controlled Alitalia, hoping that private investors will succeed in reviving the unprofitable carrier after repeated injections of state aid failed. Italy has invited offers of interest for at least 30.1 percent of Alitalia's shares, and possibly as much as the entire Treasury stake of 49.9 percent. In setting the terms of the bidding process, the Treasury said the buyers must keep a stake of at least 30.1 percent in Alitalia until they met the targets of an industrial plan, as well as maintain the carrier's "national identity". Under Italian law, a buyer of more than 30 percent of a company must make a public offer for the rest of the outstanding shares. Jan 2, 2007

Smaller Italian airline Meridiana, which is controlled by Prince Karim Aga Khan, is also expected to put in a bid for Alitalia, according to press reports. Last month, Meridiana bought 30 percent of fellow carrier Eurofly. Little-known Italian financier and consultant Paolo Alazraki said last week he was working with 16 unidentified investors to study a bid for Alitalia, the first open expression of interest in the carrier. Alitalia, which has a market capitalization of about EUR1.47 billion (USD$1.91 billion), has not made an operating profit in the last five years. Long-term potential suitor Air France has so far made no comment on the Alitalia sale. The two airlines own a 2 percent stake in each other. Jan 9, 2007 Editor: Aram Gesar, eMail:

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Publication:Airguide Online
Date:Jan 8, 2007
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