The Italian state is selling half of its stake in Alitalia. The ailing airline’s share price jumped 14 percent before trading mecahnisms suspended the share. It continued to trade heavily after it reentered the market, cosolidating a 10 percent gain.
There are hopes the share sale will clear the field for a new owner to save the national carrier and inject fresh capital.
The previous government diluted its share of Alitalia last year in a one billion euro capital increase after EU pressure.
This is how the new Alitalia may look. The Italian government will retain just under a quarter of the company, with Air France KLM the only other major shareholders. A government rescue plan is to follow, to be published in January.
Losses for this year will be bad; far worse is the total debt. Any buyer will need deep pockets.
Italy’s infrastructure minister Antonio Di Pietro jublilated that it meant “the exit doors have opened for Alitalia’s failed managers”.
CEO Giancarlo Cimoli may be one of the first to go. For years Alitalia has been the butt of industry jokes for its huge, overpaid staff and ramshackle service. It has also been a victim of strikes, government interference, and competition from low cost carriers. Recent hikes in fuel prices have been the final straw.
So just who might be tempted by this rather worn airline? Lufthansa has already said it will not be buying. Perhaps Air France, currently wooing Iberia
might increase its share in a bid to build a mega-European alliance?