Italy’s economy and finance ministry on Wednesday announced it has entered into “exclusive talks” with a consortium formed by Delta Air Lines, Air France-KLM and U.S. investment fund Certares for the purchase of national carrier ITA Airways.
The move comes after months of negotiation as the government deemed the offer “more in line with objectives” set by outgoing prime minister Mario Draghi, selecting it over a rival bid from container shipping company MSC Group and German airline group Lufthansa.
The Certares-led offer reportedly included 50 percent plus one share of the company and valued the airline at €700 million, which would rise to €1.95 billion after two capital increases – €650 million by the finance ministry and €600 million by Certares, according to Italian newswire Ansa.
As part of the offer, the Italian government would retain around 40 percent of ITA’s shares and control two of the company’s five board seats, according to local news reports.
Meanwhile, the MSC-Lufthansa offer was reportedly a more aggressive takeover, with the group requesting 80 percent ownership.
In a statement, the ministry said: “At the conclusion of exclusive talks, a binding agreement will be signed only if the outcome will be fully satisfactory for the public shareholder.”
Draghi had said that the non-binding selection process would go ahead regardless of the upcoming general election, set to take place on Sept. 25. However, the sale has received criticism from right-wing politician and election frontrunner Giorgia Meloni.
Leader of the national-conservative party Brothers of Italy, Meloni this week denounced the move towards privatization, saying “another piece of Italy is leaving” and the flag carrier needs a “defense strategy”.
Following Draghi’s resignation in July, the outcome of negotiations will be determined by the next government.
Originally published by BTN Europe.