Wednesday, 30 November, 2022

ITA Airways chairman resigns amid clash over sale

MILAN: The head of Italy's state-owned ITA Airways resigned on Monday night, a government source told AFP, hours before a shareholder meeting expected to back his dismissal amid a dispute over efforts to sell the carrier.

Chairman Alfredo Altavilla had clashed with the company's board over competing bids for the troubled airline, reports AFP.

He was accused of obstructing an offer by US investment fund Certares, Delta Airlines and Air France-KLM in favour of a proposal by Germany's Lufthansa and shipping group MSC.

Former prime minister Mario Draghi's administration announced at the end of August that it had accepted Certares's bid. But last month, the new government of far-right Giorgia Meloni said the exclusivity period for the negotiations was set to expire, possibly paving the way for the bidding process to resume.

To allow Italy's new government "to implement its decisions as quickly and efficiently as possible, without being in any way an obstacle or a hindrance, I have taken the decision to resign as president of the company," Altavilla wrote in a letter to the economy minister.

According to Italian media, the Certares consortium had proposed buying nearly 56 percent of ITA for around 600 million euros ($599 million).

The Italian state would retain a 44 percent stake and have two of the five seats on the future ITA board.

Lufthansa and Swiss-Italian shipping group MSC had meanwhile offered 850 million euros for 80 percent of ITA, which replaced loss-making national carrier Alitalia.

Lufthansa said at the beginning of November that it was "still interested" in taking over ITA, as long as it was a "real privatisation of the airline".

The carrier's shareholders are scheduled to convene for a general meeting on Tuesday.