DALLAS – It seems privatization is difficult for ITA Airways (AZ), as six board members have resigned from the 100% publicly-owned Italian flag carrier.
Only AZ’s president Alfredo Altavilla, managing director Fabio Lazzerini and director Frances Ouseley remain in office. According to ilsole24ore.com sources close to the matter, the resignations come amid disagreements related to the sale advisor costs the board needed to approve today in its budget report to open the privatization process.
As per the news outlet Corriere della Sera, the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) expected to open a “data room” holding sensitive information on the airline in the first half of April.
Insiders told the newspaper on March 24 that Equita, an Italian investment bank, and law firm Gianni & Origoni would be the advisers that would aid MEF with the AZ sale. The two firms were verified by two Reuters sources.
Ch-aviation reported that, before the keys to the data room were to be handed over to interested parties, representatives from the two firms would meet with the MEF and AZ officials to discuss the sale procedure and how to get it approved by the European Commission.
The representatives were reported to also work with the financial banks JPMorgan Chase and Mediobanca, as well as the law firms Grande Stevens and Sullivan & Cromwell, whom the airline had already chosen to assist in matters relating to a possible strategic alliance.
The Two Expressions of Interest
The privatization of AZ started in February when the government passed the decree that initiated the search for a partner for the public company with options for a public offer or a direct sale.
First, a consortium comprised of Lufthansa (LH) and shipping business MSC reaffirmed its interest in obtaining a majority stake in AZ. Their offer is €1.2-1.4bn (US$1.32-1.55bn). According to local media reports, Air France-KLM and US-based Indigo Partners have also both expressed their interest.
Additionally, the Italian publication La Repubblica has reported that Delta Air Lines (DL) expressed interest in acquiring a majority stake in AZ, submitting an “Express of Interest” document (EOI) to the Italian Ministry of Finance. Last week, a representative for DL acknowledged that the US-based airline is in constant contact with AZ management, but declined to comment any further.
The MEF, AZ’s sole shareholder, will remain in the capital with a minority stake, which could also be sold in a second phase.
Featured image: Darryl Sarno/Airways