Swiss shipping giant MSC bins ITA Airways bid

Swiss shipping giant MSC said Monday it was abandoning its bid to buy ITA Airways, Italy’s state-owned airline, for which it made an offer in January along with Germany’s Lufthansa.

MSC said it had “informed the competent authorities that it is no longer interested in participating in the privatisation of ITA Airways”.

It added in a statement that the “current procedure” did not meet the necessary conditions for such a takeover.

In August, MSC and Lufthansa offered to pay 850 million euros ($870 million) for 80 percent of ITA, leaving the Italian state with only a 20 percent stake.

MSC’s share was to be 60 percent.

The Swiss company was counting on economies of scale in freight and passenger transport.

The group, founded by Italian Gianluigi Aponte and of which MSC Cruises is a part, is the world leader in maritime freight.

The former government of Mario Draghi dealt a setback to the MSC-Lufthansa pairing by selecting a rival bid by US investment fund Certares, in association with Air France-KLM and Delta Air Lines, to open exclusive negotiations.

New Economy Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti announced in late October that he would not renew exclusive negotiations with the consortium led by Certares.

That paved the way for the return of Lufthansa and MSC.

The German airline said at the beginning of November that it was “still interested in a real privatisation of the airline”.

Lufthansa has always favoured full privatisation of the Italian airline, while the Draghi government sought to retain a large public stake.

The Italian economy ministry, which holds a 100 percent stake in ITA, has given Lufthansa access to the airline’s financial information, the Corriere della Sera newspaper reported Friday.

Lufthansa declined to comment, as did the economy ministry.

According to Corriere della Sera, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s new government plans to sell a 65-70 percent stake in ITA Airways, leaving the remaining 30-35 percent in the hands of the Italian state. — Agence France-Presse